Interferon-gamma polymorphisms and risk of iron deficiency and anaemia in Gambian children

Malaria is common in sub-Saharan Africa and kills thousands of children yearly. Interferon-gamma is produced to help fight against malaria, but high levels can induce reduced production of blood cells resulting in anaemia. Anaemia negatively affects the development of children and can cause low productivity and fatigue. Interferon-gamma also affects pathways involved in dietary iron absorption, causing iron deficiency. We studied different variations of the interferon gamma gene in Gambian children during a malaria season. We found that none of the studied gene variations influenced the children’s iron status at the beginning of the malaria season. However, children with a variation of the gene (IFNG+2200C), which is associated with producing higher levels of interferon gamma, had a modestly increased risk of developing iron deficiency and anaemia. We recommend that larger studies are needed to validate this finding in other populations.

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