Dissemination of bloodmeal acquired Rickettsia felis in cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis

Chutima Thepparit, Supanee Hirunkanokpun, Vsevolod Popov, Lane D. Foil, Kevin R. MacAluso

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

17 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis, are known biological vectors for Rickettsia felis. Rickettsial transmission can be vertical via transovarial transmission within a flea population, as well as horizontal between fleas through a bloodmeal. The previously undescribed infection kinetics of bloodmeal-acquired R. felis in cat fleas provides insight into the R. felis-flea interaction. Findings. In the present study, dissemination of R. felis in previously uninfected cat fleas fed an R. felis-infected bloodmeal was investigated. At weekly intervals for 28 days, rickettsial propagation, accumulation, and dissemination in gut epithelial cells, specifically in the hindgut and the specialized cells in the neck region of midgut, were observed on paraffin sections of infected cat fleas by immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and confirmed by PCR detection of R. felis 17-kDa antigen gene. IFA results demonstrate ingested rickettsiae in vacuoles during early infection of the gut; lysosomal activity, indicated by lysosome marker staining of freshly-dissected gut, suggests the presence of phagolysosome-associated vacuoles. Subsequent to infection in the gut, rickettsiae spread to the hemocoel and other tissues including reproductive organs. Densely-packed rickettsiae forming mycetome-like structures were observed in the abdomen of infected male cat fleas during late infection. Ultrastructural analysis by transmission electron microscopy (TEM) confirmed the presence and infection characteristics of Rickettsia including rickettsial destruction in the phagolysosome, rickettsial division, and accumulation in the flea gut. Conclusions: This study intimately profiles R. felis dissemination in cat fleas and further illuminates the mechanisms of rickettsial transmission in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number149
JournalParasites and Vectors
Volume6
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2013

Fingerprint

Rickettsia felis
Ctenocephalides
Siphonaptera
Rickettsia
Phagosomes
Vacuoles
Infection
Fluorescent Antibody Technique
Rickettsia Infections
Lysosomes
Transmission Electron Microscopy
Abdomen
Paraffin
Neck
Epithelial Cells
Staining and Labeling
Antigens
Polymerase Chain Reaction

Keywords

  • Cat flea
  • Ctenocephalides felis
  • Rickettsia felis
  • Rickettsial infection

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

Cite this

Dissemination of bloodmeal acquired Rickettsia felis in cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis. / Thepparit, Chutima; Hirunkanokpun, Supanee; Popov, Vsevolod; Foil, Lane D.; MacAluso, Kevin R.

In: Parasites and Vectors, Vol. 6, No. 1, 149, 2013.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Thepparit, Chutima ; Hirunkanokpun, Supanee ; Popov, Vsevolod ; Foil, Lane D. ; MacAluso, Kevin R. / Dissemination of bloodmeal acquired Rickettsia felis in cat fleas, Ctenocephalides felis. In: Parasites and Vectors. 2013 ; Vol. 6, No. 1.
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