• Malaria severity: Possible influence of the E670G PCSK9 polymorphism: A preliminary case-control study in Malian children

      Arama, Charles; Diarra, Issa; Kouriba, Bourèma (San Francisco: PLOS, 2018-02-15)
      Aim: Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin/Kexin Type 9 (PCSK9) is a hepatic secretory protein which promotes the degradation of low-density lipoprotein receptors leading to reduced hepatic uptake of plasma cholesterol. Non-synonymous single-nucleotide polymorphisms in its gene have been linked to hypo- or hyper- cholesterolemia, depending on whether they decrease or increase PCSK9 activity, respectively. Since the proliferation and the infectivity of Plasmodium spp. partially depend on cholesterol from the host, we hypothesize that these PCSK9 genetic polymorphisms could influence the course of malaria infection in individuals who carry them. Here we examined the frequency distribution of one dominant (C679X) and two recessive (A443T, I474V) hypocholesterolemic polymorphisms as well as that of one recessive hypercholesterolemic polymorphism (E670G) among healthy and malaria-infected Malian children. Methods: Dried blood spots were collected in Bandiagara, Mali, from 752 age, residence and ethnicity- matched children: 253 healthy controls, 246 uncomplicated malaria patients and 253 severe malaria patients. Their genomic DNA was extracted and genotyped for the above PCSK9 polymorphisms using Taqman assays. Associations of genotype distributions and allele frequencies with malaria were evaluated. Results: The minor allele frequency of the A443T, I474V, E670G, and C679X polymorphisms in the study population sample was 0.12, 0.20, 0.26, and 0.02, respectively. For each polymorphism, the genotype distribution among the three health conditions was statistically insignificant, but for the hypercholesterolemic E670G polymorphism, a trend towards association of the minor allele with malaria severity was observed (P = 0.035). The association proved to be stronger when allele frequencies between healthy controls and severe malaria cases were compared (Odd Ratio: 1.34; 95% Confidence Intervals: 1.04±1.83); P = 0.031). Conclusions: Carriers of the minor allele of the E670G PCSK9 polymorphism might be more susceptible to severe malaria. Further investigation of the cholesterol regulating function of PCSK9 in the pathophysiology of malaria is needed.