Low density lipopolyprotein inhibits flavivirus acquisition in Aedes aegypti

Z. L. Wagar, M. O. Tree, M. C. Mpoy, M. J. Conway

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Aedes aegypti is the primary vector of a number of human pathogens including dengue virus (DENV) and Zika virus (ZIKV). Ae. aegypti acquires these viruses during the processing of bloodmeals obtained from an infected vertebrate host. Vertebrate blood contains a number of factors that have the potential to modify virus acquisition in the mosquito. Interestingly, low density lipopolyprotein (LDL) levels are decreased during severe DENV infection. Accordingly, we hypothesized that LDL is a modifiable factor that can influence flavivirus acquisition in the mosquito. We found that LDL is endocytosed by Ae. aegypti cells in a dynamin-dependent manner. LDL is also endocytosed by midgut epithelial cells and accumulates at the luminal midgut epithelium during bloodmeal digestion. Importantly, pretreatment with LDL, but not high density lipopolyprotein (HDL), significantly inhibited both DENV and ZIKV infection in vitro, and LDL inhibited ZIKV infection in vivo. This study identifies human LDL or ‘bad cholesterol’ as a modifiable factor that can inhibit flavivirus acquisition in Ae. aegypti. Identification of modifiable blood factors and critical cellular interactions that mediate pathogen acquisition may lead to novel strategies to disrupt the transmission cycle of vector-borne diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)734-742
Number of pages9
JournalInsect Molecular Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2017


  • aedes aegypti
  • blood
  • cholesterol
  • dengue
  • entry


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