The role of the mosquito peritrophic membrane in bloodmeal digestion and infectivity of Plasmodium species

J Parasitol. 1992 Jun;78(3):430-40.


Secretion and luminal formation of the peritrophic membrane (PM) were induced in female Anopheles stephensi and Aedes aegypti by feeding the mosquitoes on a warmed suspension of latex particles in Ringer's solution. The PM in A. stephensi was produced from apical secretion vesicles stored in the midgut epithelial cells and secreted into the lumen during feeding. In A. aegypti, the PM was formed de novo. When the latex feeding was followed 24 hr later by a meal of lyophilized pig blood, the 2 mosquito species exhibited very different modifications to their PM structure; in A. stephensi no PM was formed around the blood meal, whereas de novo synthesis of the PM in A. aegypti continued during the blood meal, with the resulting PM greatly thickened compared to the normal feeding. This artificial induction of PM formation was used as the basis to study the role of the PM in blood meal digestion and in infectivity of mosquitoes by the appropriate species of Plasmodium. The feeding of a latex suspension alone had no stimulatory effect on the 2 major midgut proteases, trypsin and aminopeptidase, in either species. After a blood meal alone, proteases rose to maximum activity at 30 hr and 24 hr after feeding in A. stephensi and A. aegypti, respectively. After double feeding, protease activities in both species were almost identical to those in blood-fed mosquitoes. Neither the absence of a PM (in A. stephensi) nor the presence of a thickened PM (in A. aegypti), therefore, has any effect on the ability of mosquitoes to digest a blood meal. Malaria infectivity, measured by oocyst counts, also was compared after normal and double feeding using infective blood meals. Infectivity of A. stephensi by Plasmodium berghei was unaffected by the presence or absence of the PM. The thickened PM produced by double feeding in A. aegypti caused a reduction of midgut infectivity by Plasmodium gallinaceum. These results suggest that the PM may act as a partial, but not an absolute, barrier to invasion of the midgut by the ookinete.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aedes / parasitology
  • Aedes / physiology*
  • Aedes / ultrastructure
  • Aminopeptidases / analysis
  • Animals
  • Anopheles / parasitology
  • Anopheles / physiology*
  • Anopheles / ultrastructure
  • Blood
  • Digestion
  • Female
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Plasmodium berghei / physiology*
  • Plasmodium gallinaceum / physiology*
  • Trypsin / analysis


  • Aminopeptidases
  • Trypsin