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Relationship between Plasmodium falciparum malaria prevalence, genetic diversity and endemic Burkitt lymphoma in Malawi

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  • W Thomas Johnston
  • Nora Mutalima
  • David Sun
  • Benjamin Emmanuel
  • Kishor Bhatia
  • Peter Aka
  • Xiaolin Wu
  • E Borgstein
  • G N Liomba
  • Steve Kamiza
  • Nyengo Mkandawire
  • Mkume Batumba
  • Lucy M Carpenter
  • Harold Jaffe
  • Elizabeth M Molyneux
  • James J Goedert
  • Daniel Soppet
  • Robert Newton
  • Sam M Mbulaiteye


Publication details

JournalScientific Reports
DatePublished - 17 Jan 2014
Original languageEnglish


Endemic Burkitt lymphoma (eBL) has been linked to Plasmodium falciparum (Pf) malaria infection, but the contribution of infection with multiple Pf genotypes is uncertain. We studied 303 eBL (cases) and 274 non eBL-related cancers (controls) in Malawi using a sensitive and specific molecular-barcode array of 24 independently segregating Pf single nucleotide polymorphisms. Cases had a higher Pf malaria prevalence than controls (64.7% versus 45.3%; odds ratio [OR] 2.1, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5 to 3.1). Cases and controls were similar in terms of Pf density (4.9 versus 4.5 log copies, p = 0.28) and having ≥3 non-clonal calls (OR 2.7, 95% CI: 0.7-9.9, P = 0.14). However, cases were more likely to have a higher Pf genetic diversity score (153.9 versus 133.1, p = 0.036), which measures a combination of clonal and non-clonal calls, than controls. Further work is needed to evaluate the possible role of Pf genetic diversity in the pathogenesis of endemic BL.

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