Spread of diabetes in Africa linked to malaria infection

A recently published study linked the spread of type 2 diabetes in Africa to an increased risk of malaria infection.

Researchers from the University of California - Davis explained that the mosquito immune system is suppressed by human insulin, which is in greater concentration in those with type 2 diabetes. As a result, when mosquitoes ingest the blood of diabetes sufferers, they lower their immune response to Plasmodium falciparum, the protozoan parasite that causes malaria, according to MedicalNewsToday.

Rates of type 2 diabetes are rising rapidly in Africa, as well as in the rest of the world. At current rates, experts believe one in five African adults will have the condition by 2030.

The study, which was published in the journal Infection and Immunity, said that this trend encourages the spread of malaria infection, as more mosquitoes will be prone to hyperinsulinemia, or high levels of insulin the blood.

Nazzy Pakpour, the first author of the study, said that mosquitoes that ingest blood with normal insulin levels have a good chance of fighting off malaria infection to begin with.

"It's crazy to think something in our blood could change how mosquitoes respond to parasites," Pakpour said, MedicalNewsToday reports.

The researchers said the discovery is both horrific and intriguing, from a scientific standpoint.