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Parasitol Res. 2017 Jan;116(1):1-9. Epub 2016 Oct 27.

The human immune system's response to carcinogenic and other infectious agents transmitted by mosquito vectors.

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Department of Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, 171 77, Stockholm, Sweden.
The Pain Clinic, Bolsover, S44 6BB, UK.


It has been hypothesised that mosquitoes [Diptera: Culicidae] may play more of a role in certain cancers than is currently appreciated. Research links 33 infectious agents to cancer, 27 of which have a presence in mosquitoes, and that, in addition, mosquito saliva downregulates the immune system. The objective of this paper is to review the literature on the immune system and cancer-causing infectious agents, particularly those present in mosquitoes, with a view to establishing whether such infectious agents can, in the long run, defeat the immune system or be defeated by it. Many of the viruses, bacteria and parasites recognised by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as carcinogenic and suspected by others as being involved in cancer have evolved numerous complex ways of avoiding, suppressing or altering the immune system's responses. These features, coupled with the multiplicity and variety of serious infectious agents carried by some species of mosquitoes and the adverse effects on the immune system of mosquito saliva, suggest that post-mosquito bite the immune system is likely to be overwhelmed. In such a situation, immunisation strategies offer little chance of cancer prevention, unless a single or limited number of critical infectious agents can be isolated from the 'mosquito' cocktail. If that proves to be impossible cancer prevention will, therefore, if the hypothesis proves to be correct, rest on the twin strategies of environmentally controlling the mosquito population and humans avoiding being bitten. The latter strategy will involve determining the factors that demark those being bitten from those that are not.


Cancer; Health; Infectious agents; Mosquitoes; Parasites

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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