Thursday, May 30, 2013

Finally, a benefit for growing old

Malaria in Chimpanzees

Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and the Robert Koch-Institute did a study on malaria and age distribution of a group of wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes).

As humans age, their protective immunity increases. With malaria, the prevalence in the human body decreases with age; along with morbidity and mortality.

The chimps involved in the study ranged in ages 3-47 years. Researchers analyzed faecal samples. They found that almost every animal was found positive at least once. During the entire study, this means that at least one animal of this group was infected at every point the entire study.

Gender was not a factor; however analyses showed malaria parasites were found most often in younger animals. This indicates the same trend of acquired immunity as in humans. It is difficult to conclude that malaria in young chimps causes high mortality, because their bodies are rarely accessible. The study can conclude that there is continuous exposure to these chimps, therefore development of a resistance to infection.

To read the complete study, see the article referenced below.


H. M. De Nys, S. Calvignac-Spencer, U. Thiesen, C. Boesch, R. M. Wittig, R. Mundry, F. H. Leendertz. Age-related effects on malaria parasite infection in wild chimpanzees. Biology Letters, 2013; 9 (4): 20121160 DOI: 10.1098/rsbl.2012.1160

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