Human insulin suppresses mosquito immune system: increasing cases of type II diabetes could abet malaria’s spreadPosted: July 2, 2012
“A fair portion actually fight off the infection,” says first author Nazzy Pakpour of the University of California, Davis.
But now the rate of type 2 diabetes is climbing in Africa as in most of the rest of the world, to the point where by 2030, one in five adults there are predicted to be so-afflicted. More diabetes means more hyperinsulinemia — more human insulin to inhibit mosquitoes’ immune response to Plasmodium falciparum, thus aiding and abetting transmission of this dread disease.
As horrific as the medical consequences of all this might be, the science is intriguing. “It’s crazy to think something in our blood could change how mosquitoes respond to parasites,” says Pakpour.
In earlier work, Pakpour and collaborators showed that ingested human insulin activates the insulin/IGF-1 signaling pathway in Anopheles stephensi mosquitoes, making them more vulnerable to invasion by P. falciparum.