Frequencies of peripheral blood myeloid cells in healthy Kenyan children with alpha+ thalassemia and the sickle cell trait.
Urban BC., Shafi MJ., Cordery DV., Macharia A., Lowe B., Marsh K., Williams TN.
The high frequencies of both alpha+ thalassemia and the sickle cell trait (hemoglobin AS [HbAS]) found in many tropical populations are thought to reflect selection pressure from Plasmodium falciparum malaria. For HbAS, but not for alpha+ thalassemia, protection appears to be mediated by the enhanced phagocytic clearance of ring-infected erythrocytes. We have investigated the genotype-specific distributions of peripheral blood leukocyte populations in two groups of children living on the coast of Kenya: a group of healthy P. falciparum parasite-negative children sampled at cross-sectional survey during a period of low malaria transmission, and a group of children attending the hospital with acute malaria. We report distinctive distributions of peripheral blood myeloid dendritic cells and monocytes in children with alpha+ thalassemia and HbAS during healthy periods and disease, and suggest ways in which these might relate to the mechanisms of protection afforded by these conditions.