Immune Activation by Life-Shortening Wolbachia and Reduced Filarial Competence in Mosquitoes

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Science  02 Oct 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5949, pp. 134-136
DOI: 10.1126/science.1177531

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Mosquito Vector Intervention

Mosquitoes are responsible for causing the infection of an estimated 120 million people with the nematode worms that block the lymph system and result in the gross pathology of elephantiasis and other filariases. Kambris et al. (p. 134) infected vector mosquitoes with a bacterium (Wolbachia), which impaired the insects' ability to act as filaria vectors and possibly would affect transmission of other pathogens, too. The infected mosquitoes were less susceptible to the worms owing to chronic upregulation of mosquito immune responses. Immune activation bears a physiological cost for the mosquitoes, which may explain earlier observations of curtailed life spans of Wolbachia-infected mosquitoes.