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Antimalarial antibody levels and IL4 polymorphism in the Fulani of West Africa


The Fulani are less clinically susceptible and more immunologically responsive to malaria than neighbouring ethnic groups. Here we report that anti-malarial antibody levels show a wide distribution amongst the Fulani themselves, raising the possibility that quantitative analysis within the Fulani may be an efficient way of screening for important genetic factors. The Th2 cytokine interleukin-4 is an obvious candidate: in Fulani, the IL4-524 T allele is at high frequency and is associated with elevated antibody levels against malaria antigens. These data highlight the possibility of combining inter- and intra-ethnic comparisons to characterize critical determinants of malarial immunity in a natural setting.


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We are grateful to the villagers of Barkoundouba and Barkoumbilen for their kind participation and we are deeply indebted to the personnel of the Immunoparasitology Unit of the Centre National de Recherche et Formation sur le Paludisme (CNRFP).

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Correspondence to D Modiano.

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The CNRFP was supported by the Programma di Assistenza Tecnica della Direzione Generale per la Cooperazione allo Sviluppo of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The study was supported by the INCO DC European Union Contract No. IC18-CT980361 and by the World Health Organization, Geneva.

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Luoni, G., Verra, F., Arcà, B. et al. Antimalarial antibody levels and IL4 polymorphism in the Fulani of West Africa. Genes Immun 2, 411–414 (2001).

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  • ethnic groups
  • malarial immunity
  • interleukin-4
  • polymorphism

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