Association between alpha-thalassaemia trait, Plasmodium falciparum asexual parasites and gametocyte carriage in a malaria endemic area in Southern Ghana.

13 Mar 2019
Lamptey H, Ofori MF, Adu B, Kusi KA, Dickson EK, Quakyi I, Alifrangis M


The alpha-thalassaemia trait has been associated with protection against severe malaria but its role in Plasmodium falciparum asexual parasite and gametocyte carriage remains unclear. This study examined association between prevalence of α-thalassaemia and P. falciparum asexual stage parasitaemia and gametocytaemia in children, pregnant women and adults, which was part of a bigger study that investigated some key factors that influence gametocyte carriage.


Overall prevalence of heterozygous α-thalassaemia trait among all the groups was 39.0%, while 8.2% were homozygous alpha thalassaemia. Asexual parasite prevalence was significantly higher in children (P = 0.008) compared to adults and pregnant women. Of the asexual P. falciparum positive individuals, gametocyte prevalence was 38.5% (15/39) in children, 29.7% (11/37) in pregnant women and 17.4% (4/23) in adults. Heterozygous α-thalassaemic children were less likely to harbour asexual parasites, compared with normal and those deficient (OR = 0.52; 95% CI 0.28-0.97; P = 0.037) under the dominant model. These heterozygous children were also associated with reduced risk of parasitaemia compared to heterozygous adults and pregnant women. Children with heterozygous α-thalassaemia trait had reduced risk of asexual parasite carriage. There was however, no association between α-thalassaemia trait and risk of gametocyte carriage.