You asked: Is the sickle cell allele good or bad for survival?

Heterozygotes (AS) with the sickle-cell allele are resistant to malaria. Therefore, they are more likely to survive and reproduce.

What is the benefit of the sickle cell allele?

The sickle cell trait provides a survival advantage against malaria fatality over people with normal hemoglobin in regions where malaria is endemic. The trait is known to cause significantly fewer deaths due to malaria, especially when Plasmodium falciparum is the causative organism.

Are sickle cells good or bad?

People who have sickle cell trait are generally healthy. Only rarely do people who have sickle cell trait have complications similar to those seen in people who have sickle cell disease. But people who have sickle cell trait are carriers of a defective hemoglobin S gene, so they can pass it on when they have a child.

When is having one sickle cell allele actually an advantage?

The allele is very common, though: up to 10-20% of people in certain parts of Africa carry at least one sickle cell allele. That’s because there is a strong heterozygote advantage: people with one copy of the allele (we say they have the sickle cell trait) are resistant to the disease malaria.

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Is sickle cell a good mutation?

Sickle cell anemia is a good disease example of a balancing selection, with affected individuals carrying mutations in both the paternal and maternal inherited hemoglobin gene. As a consequence, their red blood cells are less efficient at carrying oxygen throughout the body.

What type of allele is sickle cell disease?

The sickle cell anemia trait is found on a recessive allele of the hemoglobin gene. This means that you must have two copies of the recessive allele — one from your mother and one from your father — to have the condition.

Why does heterozygous sickle cell anemia an advantage?

Heterozygotes are therefore more resistant to the debilitating effects of malaria than the normal homozygotes. This heterozygote advantage in many sickle-cell carriers outweighs the severe reproductive disadvantage of the rarer sickle-cell homozygotes.

How does sickle cell affect the heart?

The chronic anemia of sickle cell disease results in an increase in cardiac output with only a minimal increase in heart rate. Left ventricular stroke volume increases with significant dilation of the left ventricle (61) and the degree of LV dilation is closely linked to the degree of anemia (62).

Why is sickle cell more common in Africa?

The reason why so many black people have sickle cell, is that having the trait (so only one copy of the mutated allele) makes people more resistant to malaria. Malaria is a huge problem is sub-saharan Africa.

How does sickle cell protect against malaria?

The sickle cells have membranes, stretched by their unusual shape, that become porous and leak nutrients that the parasites need to survive and the faulty cells eventually get eliminated quite fast by the organisms, destroying the parasite along the way.

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