(ORDO NEWS) — Chinese and American molecular biologists have found that infection with Zika and Dengue viruses leads to the production of molecules on human skin that attract the attention of mosquitoes.
The work was published in the journal Cell. The results were announced on Thursday by the press service of the University of Connecticut.
Over the past few years, scientists have learned that mosquitoes use complex strategies to find new prey.
Initially, the insects calculate their position from the excess carbon dioxide in the air, and then use body heat, as well as steam and lactic acid molecules present in the sweat of humans and animals, to select a landing point.
The researchers found that Zika and Dengue viruses “hack” this behavioral program in mosquitoes and draw the attention of insects to pathogen vectors.
This, scientists suggest, allows viruses to spread rapidly through human and animal populations.
Scientists have observed the spread of the causative agents of Zika and dengue fevers within populations of laboratory mice.
To do this, they infected several individuals, placed them in partially isolated enclosures and launched mosquitoes there. Insects could also fly into other cages with healthy rodents.
Subsequent observations indicated that the insects often attacked and drank the blood of infected mice, even when healthy rodents were near them. Biologists decided that sick rodents somehow attracted the attention of bloodsuckers.
For this reason, they studied the effect of infection on the composition of sweat, the microflora of the skin and the activity of its cells.
Experiments have shown that the penetration of Zika and dengue viruses into the body of mice led to the fact that their skin cells stopped producing the antimicrobial protein RELM-alpha. As a result, bacteria began to actively multiply inside the pores.
As a result, sweat increased the concentration of acetophenone, one of the volatile substances that attract the attention of mosquitoes.
Similar changes in the composition of sweat, as shown by the analysis of the chemical composition of the sweat of sick people, occur when a person is infected with Zika and dengue viruses.
This, scientists believe, explains why both of these pathogens have been able to spread very quickly across Latin America and other regions of the world over the past ten years.
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