Aedes aegypti saliva alters leukocyte recruitment and cytokine signaling by antigen-presenting cells during West Nile virus infection

Bradley S. Schneider, Lynn Soong, Lark L. Coffey, Heather L. Stevenson, Charles E. McGee, Stephen Higgs

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60 Scopus citations


West Nile virus (WNV) is transmitted during mosquito bloodfeeding. Consequently, the first vertebrate cells to contact WNV are cells in the skin, followed by those in the draining lymph node. Macrophages and dendritic cells are critical early responders in host defense against WNV infection, not just because of their role in orchestrating the immune response, but also because of their importance as sites of early peripheral viral replication. Antigen-presenting cell (APC) signals have a profound effect on host antiviral responses and disease severity. During transmission, WNV is intimately associated with mosquito saliva. Due to the ability of mosquito saliva to affect inflammation and immune responses, and the importance of understanding early events in WNV infection, we investigated whether mosquito saliva alters APC signaling during arbovirus infection, and if alterations in cell recruitment occur when WNV infection is initiated with mosquito saliva. Accordingly, experiments were performed with cultured dendritic cells and macrophages, flow cytometry was used to characterize infiltrating cell types in the skin and lymph nodes during early infection, and real-time RT-PCR was employed to evaluate virus and cytokine levels. Our in vitro results suggest that mosquito saliva significantly decreases the expression of interferon-b and inducible nitric oxide synthase in macrophages (by as much as 50 and 70%, respectively), whilst transiently enhancing interleukin-10 (IL-10) expression. In vivo results indicate that the predominate effect of mosquito feeding is to significantly reduce the recruitment of T cells, leading the inoculation site of mice exposed to WNV alone to have up to 2.8 fold more t cells as mice infected in the presence of mosquito saliva. These shifts in cell population are associated with significantly elevated IL-10 and WNV (up to 4.0 and 10 fold, respectively) in the skin and draining lymph nodes. These results suggest that mosquito saliva dysregulates APC antiviral signaling, and reveal a possible mechanism for the observed enhancement of WNV disease mediated by mosquito saliva via a reduction of T lymphocyte and antiviral activity at the inoculation site, an elevated abundance of susceptible cell types, and a concomitant increase in immunoregulatory activity of IL-10.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere11704
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 22 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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