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Study shows metabolism impacts odds of getting malaria

The progression and development of an infectious disease is dependent on the characteristics of causing infectious agents but also the genetic characteristics of the host.

By Amy Wallace
Study shows metabolism impacts odds of getting malaria
Pictured Plasmodium parasite developing inside an hepatocyte 48 hours after malaria infection. A new study found that a person's susceptibility of getting malaria is dependent on their metabolic state and can be manipulated with external stimuli. Photo by Maria Mota lab, iMM Lisboa

Sept. 25 (UPI) -- A recent study has found that a person's susceptibility of getting malaria is dependent on their metabolic state and can be manipulated with external stimuli.

Researchers from Instituto de Medicina Molecular, or iMM, Lisboa found that external factors such as dietary patterns can manipulate a person's metabolic state and therefore, their susceptibility to developing malaria.

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The progression and development of an infectious disease is dependent on the characteristics of causing infectious agents but also the genetic characteristics of the host.

The study, published today in Nature Microbiology, consisted of experiments on mice that were fed a diet manipulated for very short periods of time and evaluated the level of infection caused by the malaria parasite.

The research showed that an increase in the levels of pro-oxidants caused by dietary changes leads to a 90 percent reduction in parasite load during the hepatic phase of the infection and lowers the severity of malaria.

This mechanism used to eliminate the malaria parasite may contribute to explain how certain genetic changes align with high levels of oxidative stress like sickle-cell anemia or beta thalassemia have been used due to their benefits against malaria, researchers say.

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