Prohemocytes are the main cells infected by dengue virus in Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus

Lie Cheng, Wei Liang Liu, Matthew P. Su, Shu Chen Huang, Jen Ren Wang, Chun Hong Chen

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2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The primary disease vectors for dengue virus (DENV) transmission between humans are the mosquitoes Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus, with Ae. aegypti population size strongly correlated with DENV outbreaks. When a mosquito is infected with DENV, the virus migrates from the midgut to the salivary glands to complete the transmission cycle. How the virus crosses the hemocoel, resulting in systemic infection, is still unclear however. During viral infection and migration, the innate immune system is activated in defense. As part of cellular-mediated immunity, hemocytes are known to defend against bacteria and Plasmodium infection and may also participate in defending against DENV infection. Hemocytes are categorized into three cell types: prohemocytes, granulocytes, and oenocytoids. Here, we investigated which hemocytes can be infected by DENV and compare hemocyte infection between Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. Methods: Hemocytes were collected from Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus mosquitoes that were intrathoracically infected with DENV2-GFP. The collected hemocytes were then identified via Giemsa staining and examined microscopically for morphological differences and viral infection. Results: All three types of hemocytes were infected by DENV, though the predominantly infected cell type was prohemocytes. In Ae. aegypti, the highest and lowest infection rates at 7 days post infection occurred in prohemocytes and granulocytes, respectively. Prohemocytes were also the primary infection target of DENV in Ae. albopictus, with similar infection rates across the other two hemocyte groups. The ratios of hemocyte composition did not differ significantly between non-infected and infected mosquitoes for either species. Conclusions: In this study, we showed that prohemocytes were the major type of hemocyte infected by DENV in both Ae. aegypti and Ae. albopictus. The infection rate of prohemocytes in Ae. albopictus was lower than that in Ae. aegypti, which may explain why systemic DENV infection in Ae. albopictus is less efficient than in Ae. aegypti and why Ae. albopictus is less correlated to dengue fever outbreaks. Future work in understanding the mechanisms behind these phenomena may help reduce arbovirus infection prevalence. Graphical Abstract: [Figure not available: see fulltext.].

Original languageEnglish
Article number137
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2022 Dec

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases


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