The mechanisms of Plasmodium spp. elimination in resistant mosquitoes are not completely understood. Some resistant anopheline strains are able to melanize Plasmodium spp. ookinetes in their midguts. Because quinoid compounds are potent catalysts for free radical generation and because these radicals can be generated in association with melanogenesis, it is probable that they play an important role in the elimination of parasites. The production of the superoxide anion (O−2) in the hemolymph and midgut of Anopheles albimanus female mosquitoes and its cytotoxic effect on Plasmodium berghei ookinetes were analyzed. Ookinetes inoculated into the hemocoel of A. albimanus were covered with melanin and then encapsulated by hemocytes within 1 hr. The presence of O−2 in midguts and in hemolymph obtained by perfusion was verified by the reduction of 3-(4,5 dimethylthiazolil-2)-2,5-diphenyl tetrazolium bromide. O−2 was generated in the hemolymph obtained by perfusion and midguts only in the presence of dihydroxyphenylalanine (l-DOPA), and this reaction was inhibited by superoxide dismutase (SOD). Plasmodium berghei ookinetes exposed to hemolymph plus l-DOPA were killed in vitro, but addition of SOD prevented their killing. Prophenoloxidase transcripts were not observed in midgut epithelium, suggesting that toxic compounds may be imported from the hemolymph. These results suggest that A. albimanus hemolymph and midguts produce O−2 that may limit Plasmodium spp. parasite development.
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