BACKGROUND: The control of vector-borne diseases is important to improve human and animal health worldwide. Malaria is one of the world's deadliest diseases and is caused by protozoan parasites of the genus Plasmodium, which are transmitted by Anopheles spp. mosquitoes. Recent evidences using Subolesin (SUB) and Akirin (AKR) vaccines showed a reduction in the survival and/or fertility of blood-sucking ectoparasite vectors and the infection with vector-borne pathogens. These experiments suggested the possibility of using AKR for malaria control.
METHODS: The role of AKR on Plasmodium berghei infection and on the fitness and reproduction of the main malaria vector, Anopheles gambiae was characterized by evaluating the effect of akr gene knockdown or vaccination with recombinant mosquito AKR on parasite infection levels, fertility and mortality of female mosquitoes.
RESULTS: Gene knockdown by RNA interference in mosquitoes suggested a role for akr in mosquito survival and fertility. Vaccination with recombinant Aedes albopictus AKR reduced parasite infection in mosquitoes fed on immunized mice when compared to controls.
CONCLUSIONS: These results showed that recombinant AKR could be used to develop vaccines for malaria control. If effective, AKR-based vaccines could be used to immunize wildlife reservoir hosts and/or humans to reduce the risk of pathogen transmission. However, these vaccines need to be evaluated under field conditions to characterize their effect on vector populations and pathogen infection and transmission.