A large case-control study of malaria in West African children shows that a human leucocyte class I antigen (HLA-Bw53) and an HLA class II haplotype (DRB1*1302-DQB1*0501), common in West Africans but rare in other racial groups, are independently associated with protection from severe malaria. In this population they account for as great a reduction in disease incidence as the sickle-cell haemoglobin variant. These data support the hypothesis that the extraordinary polymorphism of major histocompatibility complex genes has evolved primarily through natural selection by infectious pathogens.

Type

Journal article

Journal

Nature

Publication Date

1991

Volume

352

Pages

595 - 600