Aedes aegypti Shows Increased Susceptibility to Zika Virus via Both In Vitro and In Vivo Models of Type II Diabetes

Sasha R. Azar, Rafael K. Campos, Ruimei Yun, Taylor Strange, Shannan L. Rossi, Kathryn A. Hanley, Nikos Vasilakis, Scott C. Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Chronic conditions like type II diabetes (T2DM) have long been known to exacerbate many infectious diseases. For many arboviruses, including Zika virus (ZIKV), severe outcomes, morbidity and mortality usually only occur in patients with such pre-existing conditions. However, the effects of T2DM and other pre-existing conditions on human blood (e.g., hypo/hyperinsulinemia, hyperglycemia and hyperlipidemia) that may impact infectivity of arboviruses for vectors is largely unexplored. We investigated whether the susceptibility of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes was affected when the mosquitoes fed on “diabetic” bloodmeals, such as bloodmeals composed of artificially glycosylated erythrocytes or those from viremic, diabetic mice (LEPRDB/DB). Increasing glycosyla-tion of erythrocytes from hemoglobin A1c (HgbA1c) values of 5.5–5.9 to 6.2 increased the infection rate of a Galveston, Texas strain of Ae. aegypti to ZIKV strain PRVABC59 at a bloodmeal titer of 4.14 log10 FFU/mL from 0.0 to 40.9 and 42.9%, respectively. ZIKV was present in the blood of viremic LEPRDB/DB mice at similar levels as isogenic control C57BL/6J mice (3.3 log10 FFU/mL and 3.6 log10 FFU/mL, respectively. When mice sustained a higher ZIKV viremia of 4.6 log10 FFU/mL, LEPRDB/DB mice infected 36.3% of mosquitoes while control C57BL/6J mice with a viremia of 4.2 log10 FFU/mL infected only 4.1%. Additionally, when highly susceptible Ae. aegypti Rockefeller mosquitoes fed on homozygous LEPRDB/DB, heterozygous LEPRWT/DB, and control C57BL/6J mice with viremias of ≈ 4 log10 FFU/mL, 54%, 15%, and 33% were infected, respectively. In total, these data suggest that the prevalence of T2DM in a population may have a significant impact on ZIKV transmission and indicates the need for further investigation of the impacts of pre-existing metabolic conditions on arbovirus transmission.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number665
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Aedes aegypti
  • TGF-β
  • immunological cross-talk
  • type II diabetes
  • zika virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Virology


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