Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 12211612
Parasitology 2002 Aug;125(Pt 2):93-8
Although the mosquito vectors of malaria have an effective immune system capable of encapsulating many foreign particles, they rarely encapsulate malaria parasites in natural populations. A possible reason for this apparent paradox is that infection by malaria reduces the capability of the mosquito to mount an effective immune response. To investigate this possibility, we blood-fed Aedes aegypti mosquitoes on an uninfected chicken or on one infected with Plasmodium gallinaceum, and compared the proportions of the infected and uninfected mosquitoes that melanized a negatively charged Sephadex bead injected into the thorax 1, 2 and 4 days after blood-feeding. About 40% of the uninfected mosquitoes, but less than 25% of the infected ones, melanized the bead. The difference between infected and uninfected mosquitoes was most obvious 1 day after infection (at the parasite’s ookinete stage), while the difference diminished during the early oocyst stage (2 days after infection) and disappeared at the later oocyst stage (4 days after infection). These results suggest that the parasite can either actively suppress its vector’s immune response or that it modifies the blood of its chicken host in away that reduces the efficacy of the mosquito’s immune system. In either case, the reduction of immunocompetence can have important consequences for malaria control, in particular for the current effort being invested into the genetic manipulation of mosquitoes.