Human NCR3 gene variants rs2736191 and rs11575837 alter longitudinal risk for development of pediatric malaria episodes and severe malarial anemia Journalartikel uri icon



  • Plasmodium falciparum malaria is a leading cause of pediatric morbidity and mortality in holoendemic transmission areas. Severe malarial anemia [SMA, hemoglobin (Hb) < 5.0 g/dL in children] is the most common clinical manifestation of severe malaria in such regions. Although innate immune response genes are known to influence the development of SMA, the role of natural killer (NK) cells in malaria pathogenesis remains largely undefined. As such, we examined the impact of genetic variation in the gene encoding a primary NK cell receptor, natural cytotoxicity-triggering receptor 3 (NCR3), on the occurrence of malaria and SMA episodes over time. Methods Susceptibility to malaria, SMA, and all-cause mortality was determined in carriers of NCR3 genetic variants (i.e., rs2736191:C > G and rs11575837:C > T) and their haplotypes. The prospective observational study was conducted over a 36 mos. follow-up period in a cohort of children (n = 1,515, aged 1.9–40 mos.) residing in a holoendemic P. falciparum transmission region, Siaya, Kenya. Results Poisson regression modeling, controlling for anemia-promoting covariates, revealed a significantly increased risk of malaria in carriers of the homozygous mutant allele genotype (TT) for rs11575837 after multiple test correction [Incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 1.540, 95% CI = 1.114–2.129, P = 0.009]. Increased risk of SMA was observed for rs2736191 in children who inherited the CG genotype (IRR = 1.269, 95% CI = 1.009–1.597, P = 0.041) and in the additive model (presence of 1 or 2 copies) (IRR = 1.198, 95% CI = 1.030–1.393, P = 0.019), but was not significant after multiple test correction. Modeling of the haplotypes revealed that the CC haplotype had a significant additive effect for protection against SMA (i.e., reduced risk for development of SMA) after multiple test correction (IRR = 0.823, 95% CI = 0.711–0.952, P = 0.009). Although increased susceptibility to SMA was present in carriers of the GC haplotype (IRR = 1.276, 95% CI = 1.030–1.581, P = 0.026) with an additive effect (IRR = 1.182, 95% CI = 1.018–1.372, P = 0.029), the results did not remain significant after multiple test correction. None of the NCR3 genotypes or haplotypes were associated with all-cause mortality. Conclusions Variation in NCR3 alters susceptibility to malaria and SMA during the acquisition of naturally-acquired malarial immunity. These results highlight the importance of NK cells in the innate immune response to malaria.


  • Onyango, Clinton O.
  • Cheng, Qiuying
  • Munde, Elly O.
  • Raballah, Evans
  • Anyona, Samuel B.
  • McMahon, Benjamin H.
  • Lambert, Christophe G.
  • Onyango, Patrick O.
  • Schneider, Kristan
  • Perkins, Douglas J.
  • Ouma, Collins


  • 2023


  • Open Access


  • 1


  • 24


  • 542