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Effects of Aedes aegypti salivary components on dendritic cell and lymphocyte biology

Bruna Bizzarro1, Michele S Barros1, Ceres Maciel1, Daniele I Gueroni1, Ciro N Lino1, Júlia Campopiano2, Michalis Kotsyfakis3, Gustavo P Amarante-Mendes24, Eric Calvo5, Margareth L Capurro67 and Anderson Sá-Nunes17*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratório de Imunologia Experimental, Departamento de Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, 05508-900, SP, Brazil

2 Laboratório de Biologia Celular e Molecular, Departamento de Imunologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP 05508-900, Brazil

3 Laboratory of Genomics and Proteomics of Disease Vectors, Institute of Parasitology, Biology Centre of the Academy of Sciences of Czech Republic, Ceske Budejovice 37005, Czech Republic

4 Instituto de Investigação em Imunologia, Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia, INCT, São Paulo, Brazil

5 Section of Vector Biology, Laboratory of Malaria and Vector Research, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Rockville, MD 20852, USA

6 Laboratório de Mosquitos Geneticamente Modificados, Departamento de Parasitologia, Instituto de Ciências Biomédicas, Universidade de São Paulo, São Paulo, SP 05508-900, Brazil

7 Instituto Nacional de Ciência e Tecnologia em Entomologia Molecular, Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (INCT-EM/CNPq), Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Parasites & Vectors 2013, 6:329  doi:10.1186/1756-3305-6-329

Published: 15 November 2013



Saliva is a key element of interaction between hematophagous mosquitoes and their vertebrate hosts. In addition to allowing a successful blood meal by neutralizing or delaying hemostatic responses, the salivary cocktail is also able to modulate the effector mechanisms of host immune responses facilitating, in turn, the transmission of several types of microorganisms. Understanding how the mosquito uses its salivary components to circumvent host immunity might help to clarify the mechanisms of transmission of such pathogens and disease establishment.


Flow cytometry was used to evaluate if increasing concentrations of A. aegypti salivary gland extract (SGE) affects bone marrow-derived DC differentiation and maturation. Lymphocyte proliferation in the presence of SGE was estimated by a colorimetric assay. Western blot and Annexin V staining assays were used to assess apoptosis in these cells. Naïve and memory cells from mosquito-bite exposed mice or OVA-immunized mice and their respective controls were analyzed by flow cytometry.


Concentration-response curves were employed to evaluate A. aegypti SGE effects on DC and lymphocyte biology. DCs differentiation from bone marrow precursors, their maturation and function were not directly affected by A. aegypti SGE (concentrations ranging from 2.5 to 40 μg/mL). On the other hand, lymphocytes were very sensitive to the salivary components and died in the presence of A. aegypti SGE, even at concentrations as low as 0.1 μg/mL. In addition, A. aegypti SGE was shown to induce apoptosis in all lymphocyte populations evaluated (CD4+ and CD8+ T cells, and B cells) through a mechanism involving caspase-3 and caspase-8, but not Bim. By using different approaches to generate memory cells, we were able to verify that these cells are resistant to SGE effects.


Our results show that lymphocytes, and not DCs, are the primary target of A. aegypti salivary components. In the presence of A. aegypti SGE, naïve lymphocyte populations die by apoptosis in a caspase-3- and caspase-8-dependent pathway, while memory cells are selectively more resistant to its effects. The present work contributes to elucidate the activities of A. aegypti salivary molecules on the antigen presenting cell-lymphocyte axis and in the biology of these cells.

Dendritic cells; T cells; Aedes aegypti; Saliva; Apoptosis