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Infect Immun. 2007 Nov;75(11):5532-9. Epub 2007 Sep 4.

Direct microscopic quantification of dynamics of Plasmodium berghei sporozoite transmission from mosquitoes to mice.

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  • 1Department of Medical Parasitology, New York University School of Medicine, 341 East 25th Street, New York, NY 10010, USA.


The number of malaria sporozoites delivered to a host by mosquitoes is thought to have a significant influence on the subsequent course of the infection in the mammalian host. We did studies with Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes with salivary gland infections of Plasmodium berghei sporozoites expressing a red fluorescent protein. After individual mosquitoes fed on an ear pinna or the ventral abdomen of a mouse, fluorescence microscopy was used to count numbers of sporozoites. Mosquitoes allowed to feed on the ear for periods of 3 versus 15 min deposited means of 281 versus 452 sporozoites, respectively, into the skin; this may have epidemiological implications because mosquitoes can feed for longer periods of time on sleeping hosts. Mosquitoes feeding on the ventral abdomen injected sporozoites not only into the skin but also into the underlying peritoneal musculature. Although mosquitoes injected fewer sporozoites into the abdominal tissues, more of these were reingested into the mosquito midgut, probably a consequence of easier access to blood intake from the abdominal area. The most consistent parameter of sporozoite transmission dynamics under all conditions of mosquito probing and feeding was the relatively slow release rate of sporozoites (approximately 1 to 2.5 per second) from the mosquito proboscis. The numbers of sporozoites introduced into the host by mosquitoes and the transmission efficiencies of sporozoite delivery are multifactorial phenomena that vary with length of probing time, skin site being fed upon, and numbers of sporozoites within the salivary glands.

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