Lipid hijacking: a unifying theme in vector-borne diseases

Elife. 2020 Oct 29;9:e61675. doi: 10.7554/eLife.61675.


Vector-borne illnesses comprise a significant portion of human maladies, representing 17% of global infections. Transmission of vector-borne pathogens to mammals primarily occurs by hematophagous arthropods. It is speculated that blood may provide a unique environment that aids in the replication and pathogenesis of these microbes. Lipids and their derivatives are one component enriched in blood and are essential for microbial survival. For instance, the malarial parasite Plasmodium falciparum and the Lyme disease spirochete Borrelia burgdorferi, among others, have been shown to scavenge and manipulate host lipids for structural support, metabolism, replication, immune evasion, and disease severity. In this Review, we will explore the importance of lipid hijacking for the growth and persistence of these microbes in both mammalian hosts and arthropod vectors.

Keywords: arthropod vectors; infection; infectious disease; microbiology; vector-borne diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Borrelia / metabolism
  • Culicidae / parasitology
  • Culicidae / virology
  • Humans
  • Insecta / microbiology
  • Insecta / virology
  • Lipid Metabolism*
  • Ticks / microbiology
  • Ticks / virology
  • Trypanosomatina / metabolism
  • Vector Borne Diseases / metabolism*
  • Vector Borne Diseases / transmission