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J Med Entomol. 2017 Sep 1;54(5):1337-1343. doi: 10.1093/jme/tjx107.

Identification of Novel Voltage-Gated Sodium Channel Mutations in Human Head and Body Lice (Phthiraptera: Pediculidae).

Author information

Cellular and Molecular Research Center, Urmia University of Medical Sciences, Urmia 5756115111, Iran.
Medical Entomology Department, School of Public Health, Urmia University of Medical Sciences, Urmia 5756115198, Iran.
Urmia Health Center, Disease Control Unit, Urmia University of Medical Sciences, Urmia 5713759185, Iran.
Deputy of Research and Technology, Zanjan University of Medical Sciences, Zanjan 4515613191, Iran.
Urmia Health Center, Environmental Health Unit, Urmia University of Medical Sciences, Urmia 5713759185, Iran.


In recent years, the increase of head louse infestation in Iran (7.4%) and especially in West-Azerbaijan Province (248%) has raised the hypothesis of insecticide resistance development. There are different mechanisms of resistance to various groups of insecticides, and knockdown resistance (kdr) is a prominent mechanism of resistance to pyrethroids, an insecticide group which is used conventionally for pediculosis control. For detection of kdr-type well-known amino acid substitutions (M815I-T917I-L920F) and additional sodium channel mutations potentially associated with kdr resistance in head and body lice, louse populations were collected from West-Azerbaijan and Zanjan Provinces of Iran. Six novel mutations were found to be located in the IIS1-2 extracellular loop (H813P) and IIS5 (I927F, L928A, R929V, L930M, and L932M) of the α-subunit. Genotyping results showed that all specimens (100%) have at least one of these or the well-known mutations. Therefore, the presence of kdr-related and novel mutations in the sodium channel is likely to be the reason for the frequent use of pyrethroid insecticides due to treatment failure against lice. Further studies are now required to evaluate the prevalence of the kdr-like mutant allele for monitoring of insecticide resistance and the management of head and body lice in other provinces of the country.


body louse; head louse; knockdown resistance; novel voltage-gated sodium channel mutation; sequence analysis

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