Abscisic acid induces a transient shift in signaling that enhances NF-κB-mediated parasite killing in the midgut of Anopheles stephensi without reducing lifespan or fecundity

Elizabeth K.K. Glennon, Brandi K. Torrevillas, Shannon F. Morrissey, Jadrian M. Ejercito, Shirley Luckhart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Scopus citations


Background: Abscisic acid (ABA) is naturally present in mammalian blood and circulating levels can be increased by oral supplementation. We showed previously that oral ABA supplementation in a mouse model of Plasmodium yoelii 17XNL infection reduced parasitemia and gametocytemia, spleen and liver pathology, and parasite transmission to the mosquito Anopheles stephensi fed on these mice. Treatment of cultured Plasmodium falciparum with ABA at levels detected in our model had no effects on asexual growth or gametocyte formation in vitro. However, ABA treatment of cultured P. falciparum immediately prior to mosquito feeding significantly reduced oocyst development in A. stephensi via ABA-dependent synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) in the mosquito midgut. Results: Here we describe the mechanisms of effects of ABA on mosquito physiology, which are dependent on phosphorylation of TGF-β-activated kinase 1 (TAK1) and associated with changes in homeostatic gene expression and activity of kinases that are central to metabolic regulation in the midgut epithelium. Collectively, the timing of these effects suggests a transient physiological shift that enhances NF-κB-dependent innate immunity without significantly altering mosquito lifespan or fecundity. Conclusions: ABA is a highly conserved regulator of immune and metabolic homeostasis within the malaria vector A. stephensi with potential as a transmission-blocking supplemental treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number333
JournalParasites and Vectors
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jul 13 2017



  • Abscisic acid
  • Anopheles stephensi
  • Innate immunity
  • Lifespan
  • Malaria
  • Nitric oxide
  • Plasmodium falciparum
  • TAK1
  • Transmission

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • Infectious Diseases

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