Arthropod-borne viruses were not previously believed to cause discernible pathologic changes in their natural mosquito vectors. We report cytopathologic lesions in the midgut of the mosquito, Culiseta melanura, 2 to 5 days after oral infection with eastern equine encephalomyelitis virus. Sloughing of densely staining, heavily infected epithelial cells into the midgut lumen was observed by light and transmission electron microscopy, along with degeneration of cells within the epithelium. Pathological changes in midgut epithelial cells sometimes included loss of brush border and basal lamina integrity. Disruption of the midgut basal lamina could result in bypassing of barriers to virus dissemination within the mosquito and allow rapid transmission to occur. Alternatively, luminal sloughing of heavily infected midgut epithelial cells may serve to modulate mosquito infections. These findings challenge previous beliefs regarding the benign nature of arbovirus-invertebrate host relationships.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science