Immunization with culex tarsalis mosquito salivary gland extract modulates west nile virus infection and disease in mice

Carlos Machain-Williams, Krystle Reagan, Tian Wang, Nordin S. Zeidner, Carol D. Blair

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Mosquito salivary proteins inoculated during blood feeding modulate the host immune response, which can contribute to the pathogenesis of viruses transmitted by mosquito bites. Previous studies with mosquito bite-naïve mice indicated that exposure to arthropod salivary proteins resulted in a shift toward a Th2-type immune response in flavivirus-susceptible mice but not flavivirus-resistant animals. In the study presented here, we tested the hypothesis that immunization with high doses of Culex tarsalis salivary gland extracts (SGE) with an adjuvant would prevent Th2 polarization after mosquito bite and enhance resistance to mosquito-transmitted West Nile virus (WNV). Our results indicate that mice immunized with Cx. tarsalis SGE produced increased levels of Th1-type cytokines (IFNγ and TNFα) after challenge with mosquito-transmitted WNV and exhibited both a delay in infection of the central nervous system (CNS) and significantly lower WNV brain titers compared to mock-immunized mice. Moreover, mortality was significantly reduced in the SGE-immunized mice, as none of these mice died, compared to mortality of 37.5% of mock-vaccinated mice by 8 days after infected mosquito bite. These results suggest that development of a mosquito salivary protein vaccine might be a strategy to control arthropod-borne viral pathogens such as WNV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)84-92
Number of pages9
JournalViral Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2013


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Virology

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