Potentiation of vesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus infection in mice by mosquito saliva


Beaty AIDL, Foothills Campus, Department of Microbiology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80523, USA


Saliva of arthropod vectors can modulate vertebrate host immunological functions in many ways. To investigate if vesicular stomatitis New Jersey virus (VSNJ) infection could be potentiated by arthropod saliva, mice in three different age groups (3 days, 3 weeks, or > 8 months) were exposed to VSNJ-infected mosquitoes or were needle injected with an equivalent dose of VSNJ (titre 1.5–3 logs). Previous studies have demonstrated that VS viruses do not replicate in mice older than 3 weeks of age. Infection was monitored by examining serum for the presence of VSNJ at 2 days postinfection (PI) or for neutralizing antibody on days 7 and 14 PI. All 3-day-old mice succumbed to viral infection by mosquito transmission or delivery by injection. Ninety-four percent of the 3-week-old mice bitten by infected mosquitoes developed antibody, whereas antibody was detected in only 13% of inoculated mice. Adult mice developed neutralizing antibody (73%) when fed upon by infected mosquitoes, but only 11% developed antibody when virus was injected. Day 2 serum samples from 3-week and adult age groups were negative by virus isolation. These data indicate that mosquito mediated delivery of VSNJ exacerbates virus infection in mice older than 3 weeks.