Exposing Anopheles mosquitoes to antimalarials blocks Plasmodium parasite transmission
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CitationPaton, Douglas, Maurice Itoe, Inga Holmdahl, Caroline Buckee, Flaminia Catteruccia. 2019. Exposing Anopheles mosquitoes to antimalarials blocks Plasmodium parasite transmission. Nature 567: 239-243. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-0973-1
AbstractEvery year the bites of Anopheles mosquitoes kill hundreds of thousands of people, mostly young African children, by transmitting deadly Plasmodium falciparum malaria parasites. Since the turn of the century, efforts to prevent transmission of these parasites via the mass distribution of insecticide-treated bed nets have been extremely successful, causing an unprecedented reduction in malaria deaths1. However, resistance to insecticides has become widespread in Anopheles populations2-4, threatening a global resurgence of the disease and making the generation of effective new malaria control tools an urgent public health priority. Here, we show that development of P. falciparum can be rapidly and completely blocked when Anopheles gambiae females uptake low concentrations of specific antimalarials from treated surfaces, simulating contact with a bed net. Mosquito exposure to atovaquone prior to or shortly after P. falciparum infection causes full parasite arrest in the female midgut, preventing transmission of infection. Similar transmission-blocking effects are achieved with other cytochrome B inhibitors, demonstrating that parasite mitochondrial function is a good target for parasite killing. Incorporating these effects into a model of malaria transmission dynamics predicts that the inclusion of Plasmodium inhibitors on mosquito nets would significantly mitigate the global health impact of insecticide resistance. This study identifies a powerful new strategy for blocking Plasmodium transmission by Anopheles females, with promising implications for malaria eradication efforts.
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