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Plasmodium-associated changes in human odor attract mosquitoes

Robinson, Ailie, Busula, Annette O., Voets, Mirjam A., Beshir, Khalid B., Caulfield, John C., Powers, Stephen J., Verhulst, Niels O., Winskill, Peter, Muwanguzi, Julian, Birkett, Michael A., Smallegange, Renate C., Masiga, Daniel K., Mukabana, W. Richard, Sauerwein, Robert W., Sutherland, Colin J., Bousema, Teun, Pickett, John A. ORCID:, Takken, Willem, Logan, James G. and de Boer, Jetske G. 2018. Plasmodium-associated changes in human odor attract mosquitoes. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 115 (18) , E4209-E4218. 10.1073/pnas.1721610115

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Malaria parasites (Plasmodium) can change the attractiveness of their vertebrate hosts to Anopheles vectors, leading to a greater number of vector–host contacts and increased transmission. Indeed, naturally Plasmodium-infected children have been shown to attract more mosquitoes than parasite-free children. Here, we demonstrate Plasmodium-induced increases in the attractiveness of skin odor in Kenyan children and reveal quantitative differences in the production of specific odor components in infected vs. parasite-free individuals. We found the aldehydes heptanal, octanal, and nonanal to be produced in greater amounts by infected individuals and detected by mosquito antennae. In behavioral experiments, we demonstrated that these, and other, Plasmodium-induced aldehydes enhanced the attractiveness of a synthetic odor blend mimicking “healthy” human odor. Heptanal alone increased the attractiveness of “parasite-free” natural human odor. Should the increased production of these aldehydes by Plasmodium-infected humans lead to increased mosquito biting in a natural setting, this would likely affect the transmission of malaria.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Chemistry
Publisher: National Academy of Sciences
ISSN: 0027-8424
Funders: TOP-grant from ZonMW to W.T. and R.C.S. (grant number 91211038, The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research), T.B. is further supported by a grant from The Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (Vidi fellowship; NWO project number 016.158.306).
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 24 April 2018
Date of Acceptance: 21 March 2018
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2023 12:09

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