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PLoS One. 2009 Nov 16;4(11):e7854. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007854.

Blood-feeding induces reversible functional changes in flight muscle mitochondria of Aedes aegypti mosquito.

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Laboratório de Bioquímica Redox, Instituto de Bioquímica Médica, Programa de Biologia Molecular e Biotecnologia, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.



Hematophagy poses a challenge to blood-feeding organisms since products of blood digestion can exert cellular deleterious effects. Mitochondria perform multiple roles in cell biology acting as the site of aerobic energy-transducing pathways, and also an important source of reactive oxygen species (ROS), modulating redox metabolism. Therefore, regulation of mitochondrial function should be relevant for hematophagous arthropods. Here, we investigated the effects of blood-feeding on flight muscle (FM) mitochondria from the mosquito Aedes aegypti, a vector of dengue and yellow fever.


Blood-feeding caused a reversible reduction in mitochondrial oxygen consumption, an event that was parallel to blood digestion. These changes were most intense at 24 h after blood meal (ABM), the peak of blood digestion, when oxygen consumption was inhibited by 68%. Cytochromes c and a+a(3) levels and cytochrome c oxidase activity of the electron transport chain were all reduced at 24 h ABM. Ultrastructural and molecular analyses of FM revealed that mitochondria fuse upon blood meal, a condition related to reduced ROS generation. Consistently, BF induced a reversible decrease in mitochondrial H(2)O(2) formation during blood digestion, reaching their lowest values at 24 h ABM where a reduction of 51% was observed.


Blood-feeding triggers functional and structural changes in hematophagous insect mitochondria, which may represent an important adaptation to blood feeding.

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