Immunometabolism in Arthropod Vectors: Redefining Interspecies Relationships

Trends Parasitol. 2020 Oct;36(10):807-815. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2020 Aug 18.


Metabolism influences biochemical networks, and arthropod vectors are endowed with an immune system that affects microbial acquisition, persistence, and transmission to humans and other animals. Here, we aim to persuade the scientific community to expand their interests in immunometabolism beyond mammalian hosts and towards arthropod vectors. Immunometabolism investigates the interplay of metabolism and immunology. We provide a conceptual framework for investigators from diverse disciplines and indicate that relationships between microbes, mammalian hosts and their hematophagous arthropods may result in cost-effective (mutualism) or energetically expensive (parasitism) interactions. We argue that disparate resource allocations between species may partially explain why some microbes act as pathogens when infecting humans and behave as mutualistic or commensal organisms when colonizing arthropod vectors.

Keywords: arthropod vectors; immunometabolism; microbes; pathogens.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arthropod Vectors / immunology*
  • Arthropod Vectors / metabolism*
  • Arthropod Vectors / microbiology
  • Arthropods / immunology*
  • Arthropods / metabolism*
  • Arthropods / microbiology
  • Species Specificity