Deficien… Show more Why Pythagoras wouldn’t eat Falafel:

Deficien… Show more Why Pythagoras wouldn’t eat Falafel: A story about Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency Fava beans, an ingredient of falafel, have been an important food source in the Mediterranean and Middle East since antiquity. The Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras prohibited his followers from dining on fava beans, perhaps because they made many people sick with a, sometimes fatal, condition called favism. In favism, erythrocytes begin to lyse 24-48hrs after ingestion of the beans, releasing free haemoglobin into the blood. Jaundice and sometimes kidney failure can result. These symptoms have a genetic basis – G6PD deficiency. Most G6PD deficient individuals are asymptomatic with only a combination of genetic deficiency and environmental factors producing severe clinical manifestations. a) What biochemical process is G6PD involved in? b) How is this related to cell protection from H2O2 and superoxide free radicals? c) The natural product divicine is a component of fava beans. What metabolic byproduct(s) does it cause and how would this cause toxicity in G6PD deficient individuals? d) Explain, with particular reference to cellular damage, why the lack of G6PD in certain individuals may result in serious illness or death. The geographic distribution of G6PD deficiency is instructive. Frequencies as high as 25% occur in tropical Africa, parts of the Middle East and Southeast Asia, areas where malaria is most prevalent. In addition, in vitro studies of one malaria parasite, Plasmodium falciparum, show that its’ growth is inhibited in G6PD-deficient erythrocytes. The parasite is very sensitive to levels of oxidative stress that are otherwise tolerable to a G6PD-deficient human host. e) Comment on the most likely mechanism by which Plasmodium falciparum is affected by oxidative stress. f) Could fava beans be used as a natural antimalarial drug? g) What were the possible repercussions on Pythagoras’s followers who did not consume falafel? • Show less

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