Tsinghua University News

Tsinghua University scientists suggest a new control method for dengue virus

Tsinghua University scientists suggest a new control method for dengue virus

This study indicates that iron supplementation can reduce dengue transmission by mosquitoes, providing a new perspective on controlling the disease.

Dengue virus is a mosquito-borne arbovirus, and blood meal is the primary route through which mosquitoes acquire dengue virus infections. Blood components or their metabolites may influence the spread of the dengue virus.

Researchers from Tsinghua University have conducted a series of screenings on blood components and found that serum iron in human blood modulates dengue virus acquisition by mosquitoes. Dengue virus acquisition by mosquitoes is inversely correlated with the iron concentration in serum from human donors. This study showed that mosquitoes are less likely to acquire the dengue virus when they feed on blood with high levels of iron. When the iron in the serum is acquired into the mosquito gut, it will help produce more reactive oxygen species, which control the spread of the virus in mosquitoes.

Dengue virus is transmitted by several species of mosquitoes within the genus Aedes. According to Prof. Cheng Gong from Tsinghua University, the leading investigator of this study, Aedes aegypti is an important mediator of dengue virus transmission and is widely distributed in tropical and subtropical regions. However, dengue cases are not completely consistent with the distribution of mosquitoes.

According to the data from the World Health Organization, iron deficiency is widely distributed in Africa, South America, and Southeast Asia. Furthermore, these areas are highly coincident with dengue-endemic areas.

"We then decided to assess whether the iron-deficiency status regulates Dengue prevalence," Cheng said.
The team tested the conceptual with mouse models. They found that mosquitoes feeding on mice infected with the dengue virus were much more likely to acquire the virus if the mice had low levels of serum iron, while supplementing iron for the infected mice helped block the viral infection.

Cheng said that supplementing iron for people in dengue-spreading regions might be a safe, low-cost and effective way to control the disease.

“We are promoting this method in some dengue-spreading areas and will conduct further field investigations in Southeast Asia and Africa,” said Cheng.

Editor: John Olbrich