Reappraisal of known malaria resistance loci in a large multicenter study.
Many human genetic associations with resistance to malaria have been reported, but few have been reliably replicated. We collected data on 11,890 cases of severe malaria due to Plasmodium falciparum and 17,441 controls from 12 locations in Africa, Asia and Oceania. We tested 55 SNPs in 27 loci previously reported to associate with severe malaria. There was evidence of association at P < 1 × 10(-4) with the HBB, ABO, ATP2B4, G6PD and CD40LG loci, but previously reported associations at 22 other loci did not replicate in the multicenter analysis. The large sample size made it possible to identify authentic genetic effects that are heterogeneous across populations or phenotypes, with a striking example being the main African form of G6PD deficiency, which reduced the risk of cerebral malaria but increased the risk of severe malarial anemia. The finding that G6PD deficiency has opposing effects on different fatal complications of P. falciparum infection indicates that the evolutionary origins of this common human genetic disorder are more complex than previously supposed.