Changes in the haemocyte population of the mosquito, Culex quinquefasciatus, following infection with the filarial parasite, Wuchereria bancrofti

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The mosquito Culex quinquefasciatus Say (Diptera: Culicidae) is the vector of the filarial parasite Wuchereria bancrofti (Cobbold) (Spirurida: Onchocercidae), which causes human bancroftian filariasis. Information on the mosquito humoral response against the filarial parasite during the process of its infection and development is important, as it decides the vector competence of the mosquito. Visible changes in the haemocyte population of mosquito, if any, will be an indicator of the possible humoral factors. The present study was aimed at investigating changes in the populations of various types of haemocytes of Cx. quinquefasciatus following infection with W. bancrofti. On day 2 post-feeding on microfilaraemic blood, the haemolymph perfusate of infected mosquitoes with L1 stage of the parasite showed 44.1% granulocytes, 42% prohaemocytes and 13.9% plasmatocytes, whereas that of the control mosquitoes fed on amicrofilaraemic blood showed 63.4% plasmatocytes, 22.2% prohaemocytes and 14.4% granulocytes. Differences in the population numbers of haemocyte types between the infected and control were significant (P > 0.05). However, the mosquitoes examined on day 6 post-feeding, when the parasite was in L2 stage, did not show any such changes. But, similar changes reappeared on day 12 in mosquitoes with L3 stage of the parasite. The observed haemocyte population changes indicate the possibility of some amount of humoral immune response, through the production of certain immune molecules, in Cx. quinquefasciatus infected with W. bancrofti. The nature and exact role of such a response on the filarial parasite development need further investigation.

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