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1.  Distinct variation in vector competence among nine field populations of Aedes aegypti from a Brazilian dengue-endemic risk city 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7:320.
In Brazil, dengue epidemics erupt sporadically throughout the country and it is unclear if outbreaks may initiate a sustainable transmission cycle. There are few studies evaluating the ability of Brazilian Aedes aegypti populations to transmit dengue virus (DENV). The aim of this study was to compare DENV susceptibility of field-captured Ae. aegypti populations from nine distinct geographic areas of the city of Belo Horizonte in 2009 and 2011. Infection Rate (IR), Vector Competence (VC) and Disseminated Infection Rate (DIR) were determined.
Aedes aegypti eggs from each region were collected and reared separately in an insectary. Adult females were experimentally infected with DENV-2 and the virus was detected by qPCR in body and head samples. Data were analyzed with the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences version 17.
IR varied from 40.0% to 82.5% in 2009 and 60.0% to 100.0% in 2011. VC ranged from 25.0% to 77.5% in 2009 and 25.0% to 80.0% in 2011. DIR oscillated from 68.7% to 100.0% in 2009 and 38.4% to 86.8 in 2011. When the results were evaluated by a logistic model using IR as covariate, North, Barreiro, South-Central and Venda Nova showed the strongest association in 2009. In 2011, a similar association was observed for South-Central, Venda Nova, West and Northeast regions. Using VC as covariate, South-Central and Venda Nova showed the most relevant association in 2009. In 2011, South-Central, Venda Nova and Barreiro presented the greatest revelation associations. When DIR data were analyzed by logistic regression models, Pampulha, South-Central, Venda Nova, West, Northeast and East (2009) as well as South-Central, Venda Nova and West (2011) were the districts showing the strongest associations.
We conclude that Ae. aegypti populations from Belo Horizonte exhibit wide variation in vector competence to transmit dengue. Therefore, vector control strategies should be adapted to the available data for each region. Further analysis should be conducted to better understand the reasons for this large variability in vector competence and how these parameters correlate with epidemiological findings in subsequent years.
PMCID: PMC4230638  PMID: 25015526
Dengue virus (DENV); Aedes aegypti; Field population; Infection rate; Vector competence; Disseminated infection rate
2.  Experimental Plasmodium vivax infection of key Anopheles species from the Brazilian Amazon 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:460.
Anopheles darlingi is the major malaria vector in countries located in the Amazon region. Anopheles aquasalis and Anopheles albitarsis s.l. are also proven vectors in this region. Anopheles nuneztovari s.l. and Anopheles triannulatus s.l. were found infected with Plasmodium vivax; however, their status as vectors is not yet well defined. Knowledge of susceptibility of Amazon anopheline populations to Plasmodium infection is necessary to better understand their vector capacity. Laboratory colonization of An. darlingi, the main Amazon vector, has proven to be difficult and presently An. aquasalis is the only available autonomous colony.
Larvae of An. darlingi, An. albitarsis s.l., An. nuneztovari s.l. and An. triannulatus s.l. were collected in the field and reared until adult stage. Adults of An. aquasalis were obtained from a well-established colony. Mosquitoes were blood-fed using a membrane-feeding device containing infected blood from malarial patients.
The infection of the distinct Anopheles species was evaluated by the impact variance of the following parameters: (a) parasitaemia density; (b) blood serum inactivation of the infective bloodmeal; (c) influence of gametocyte number on infection rates and number of oocysts. The goal of this work was to compare the susceptibility to P. vivax of four field-collected Anopheles species with colonized An. aquasalis.
All Anopheles species tested were susceptible to P. vivax infection, nevertheless the proportion of infected mosquitoes and the infection intensity measured by oocyst number varied significantly among species. Inactivation of the blood serum prior to mosquito feeding increased infection rates in An. darlingi and An. triannulatus s.l., but was diminished in An. albitarsis s.l. and An. aquasalis. There was a positive correlation between gametocyte density and the infection rate in all tests (Z = −8.37; p < 0.001) but varied among the mosquito species. Anopheles albitarsis s.l., An. aquasalis and An. nuneztovari s.l. had higher infection rates than An. darlingi.
All field-collected Anopheles species, as well as colonized An. aquasalis are susceptible to experimental P. vivax infections by membrane feeding assays. Anopheles darlingi, An. albitarsis s.l. and An. aquasalis are very susceptible to P. vivax infection. However, colonized An. aquasalis mosquitoes showed the higher infection intensity represented by infection rate and oocyst numbers. This study is the first to characterize experimental development of Plasmodium infections in Amazon Anopheles vectors and also to endorse that P. vivax infection of colonized An. aquasalis is a feasible laboratory model.
PMCID: PMC3878095  PMID: 24359307
Plasmodium vivax; Anopheles; Malaria; Membrane feeding assay; Infection rate; Oocysts
3.  A tetravalent dengue nanoparticle stimulates antibody production in mice 
Dengue is a major public health problem worldwide, especially in the tropical and subtropical regions of the world. Infection with a single Dengue virus (DENV) serotype causes a mild, self-limiting febrile illness called dengue fever. However, a subset of patients experiencing secondary infection with a different serotype progresses to the severe form of the disease, dengue hemorrhagic fever/dengue shock syndrome. Currently, there are no licensed vaccines or antiviral drugs to prevent or treat dengue infections. Biodegradable nanoparticles coated with proteins represent a promising method for in vivo delivery of vaccines.
Here, we used a murine model to evaluate the IgG production after administration of inactivated DENV corresponding to all four serotypes adsorbed to bovine serum albumin nanoparticles. This formulation induced a production of anti-DENV IgG antibodies (p < 0.001). However, plaque reduction neutralization assays with the four DENV serotypes revealed that these antibodies have no neutralizing activity in the dilutions tested.
Our results show that while the nanoparticle system induces humoral responses against DENV, further investigation with different DENV antigens will be required to improve immunogenicity, epitope specicity, and functional activity to make this platform a viable option for DENV vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3349613  PMID: 22439913
inactivated Dengue vírus; Nanoparticles; humoral response
4.  The transmission of Leishmania infantum chagasi by the bite of the Lutzomyia longipalpis to two different vertebrates 
Parasites & Vectors  2012;5:20.
Sandflies are vectors of Leishmania, the causative agent of leishmaniasis in mammalian hosts, including humans. The protozoan parasite is transmitted by the sandfly bite during salivation that occurs at the moment of blood feeding. The components of vector saliva include anticlotting and vasodilatory factors that facilitate blood flow and immunomodulatory factors that inhibit wound healing and quell the immune response. Not surprisingly, these factors also play important roles in the establishment of Leishmania infection. To date, the majority of knowledge that has been generated regarding the process of Leishmania infection, including L. infantum chagasi transmission has been gathered by using intradermal or subcutaneous inoculation of purified parasites.
This study presents the establishment of a transmission model of Leishmania infantum chagasi by the bite of Lutzomyia longipalpis, the vector of American visceral leishmaniasis. The parasites were successfully transmitted by infected sandfly bites to mice and hamsters, indicating that both animals are good experimental models. The L. infantum chagasi dose that was transmitted in each single bite ranged from 10 to 10, 000 parasites, but 75% of the sandflies transmitted less than 300 parasites.
The strategy for initiating infection by sandfly bite of experimental animals facilitates future investigations into the complex and dynamic mechanisms of visceral leishmaniasis. It is important to elucidate the transmission mechanism of vector bites. This model represents a useful tool to study L. infantum chagasi infection transmitted by the vector.
PMCID: PMC3293046  PMID: 22260275
transmission; bite; leishmaniasis; Lutzomyia longipalpis
5.  Use of the checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization technique for bacteria detection in Aedes aegypti (Diptera:Culicidae) (L.) 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:237.
Bacteria associated with insects can have a substantial impact on the biology and life cycle of their host. The checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization technique is a semi-quantitative technique that has been previously employed in odontology to detect and quantify a variety of bacterial species in dental samples. Here we tested the applicability of the checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization technique to detect the presence of Aedes aegypti-associated bacterial species in larvae, pupae and adults of A. aegypti.
Using the checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization technique we could detect and estimate the number of four bacterial species in total DNA samples extracted from A. aegypti single whole individuals and midguts. A. aegypti associated bacterial species were also detected in the midgut of four other insect species, Lutzomyia longipalpis, Drosophila melanogaster, Bradysia hygida and Apis mellifera.
Our results demonstrate that the checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization technique can be employed to study the microbiota composition of mosquitoes. The method has the sensitivity to detect bacteria in single individuals, as well as in a single organ, and therefore can be employed to evaluate the differences in bacterial counts amongst individuals in a given mosquito population. We suggest that the checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization technique is a straightforward technique that can be widely used for the characterization of the microbiota in mosquito populations.
PMCID: PMC3265427  PMID: 22185193
Checkerboard DNA-DNA hybridization; Aedes aegypti; bacteria
6.  An insight into the sialome of Simulium guianense (DIPTERA:SIMulIIDAE), the main vector of River Blindness Disease in Brazil 
BMC Genomics  2011;12:612.
Little is known about the composition and function of the saliva in black flies such as Simulium guianense, the main vector of river blindness disease in Brazil. The complex salivary potion of hematophagous arthropods counteracts their host's hemostasis, inflammation, and immunity.
Transcriptome analysis revealed ubiquitous salivary protein families--such as the Antigen-5, Yellow, Kunitz domain, and serine proteases--in the S. guianense sialotranscriptome. Insect-specific families were also found. About 63.4% of all secreted products revealed protein families found only in Simulium. Additionally, we found a novel peptide similar to kunitoxin with a structure distantly related to serine protease inhibitors. This study revealed a relative increase of transcripts of the SVEP protein family when compared with Simulium vittatum and S. nigrimanum sialotranscriptomes. We were able to extract coding sequences from 164 proteins associated with blood and sugar feeding, the majority of which were confirmed by proteome analysis.
Our results contribute to understanding the role of Simulium saliva in transmission of Onchocerca volvulus and evolution of salivary proteins in black flies. It also consists of a platform for mining novel anti-hemostatic compounds, vaccine candidates against filariasis, and immuno-epidemiologic markers of vector exposure.
PMCID: PMC3285218  PMID: 22182526
7.  Contribution of midgut bacteria to blood digestion and egg production in aedes aegypti (diptera: culicidae) (L.) 
Parasites & Vectors  2011;4:105.
The insect gut harbors a variety of microorganisms that probably exceed the number of cells in insects themselves. These microorganisms can live and multiply in the insect, contributing to digestion, nutrition, and development of their host.
Recent studies have shown that midgut bacteria appear to strengthen the mosquito's immune system and indirectly enhance protection from invading pathogens. Nevertheless, the physiological significance of these bacteria for mosquitoes has not been established to date. In this study, oral administration of antibiotics was employed in order to examine the contribution of gut bacteria to blood digestion and fecundity in Aedes aegypti.
The antibiotics carbenicillin, tetracycline, spectinomycin, gentamycin and kanamycin, were individually offered to female mosquitoes. Treatment of female mosquitoes with antibiotics affected the lysis of red blood cells (RBCs), retarded the digestion of blood proteins and reduced egg production. In addition, antibiotics did not affect the survival of mosquitoes. Mosquito fertility was restored in the second gonotrophic cycle after suspension of the antibiotic treatment, showing that the negative effects of antibiotics in blood digestion and egg production in the first gonotrophic cycle were reversible.
The reduction of bacteria affected RBC lysis, subsequently retarded protein digestion, deprived mosquito from essential nutrients and, finally, oocyte maturation was affected, resulting in the production of fewer viable eggs. These results indicate that Ae. aegypti and its midgut bacteria work in synergism to digest a blood meal.
Our findings open new possibilities to investigate Ae. aegypti-associated bacteria as targets for mosquito control strategies.
PMCID: PMC3125380  PMID: 21672186

Results 1-7 (7)