MadSci Network: Biochemistry

Re: research ever been done on correlation: bilirubin AND no mosquito bites

Date: Wed Dec 13 18:47:22 2000
Posted By: Bela Tiwari, Staff, Bioinformatics Centre, Oxford University
Area of science: Biochemistry
ID: 975398304.Bc


The short answer to your question is that I, and the people I asked, could 
find no direct studies on levels of bilirubin and its effect on mosquito 

However the topic of what is or is not attractive about a host (in this 
case you) is an important area of mosquito biology. Mosquitoes can navigate 
towards their potential hosts by responding to various cues which the host 
emits. Some of these are chemical and some are physical.

Chemical cues can include things like components of expired breath, where 
carbon dioxide and water are known to be attractive to mosquitoes. S-lactic 
acid is also present in human breath but the extent to which this affects 
mosquito responses to human odour is not known. 

Another consideration is that different species of mosquitoes will not 
necessarily respond to chemicals in an identical manner. For example, sweat 
soaked cloths increased the entry of mosquitoes of the species Aedes gambia 
and A. funestus into traps, but did not affect those of the species 
Mansoria africans or M. uniformis.

In general however, if increased levels of bilirubin cause changes in the 
chemicals you emit, for example when you breathe or sweat, then there is 
certainly every possibility that this could affect how attractive you are 
to mosquitoes. 

Unfortunately, I could not find any information about changes in the levels 
or types of body secretions by those with Gilbert's disease. Neither could 
I find information about changes in secretions of people with jaundice that 
would be relevant. I hope that if anyone knows more about this, that they 
will send the information in!

While I was not able to find any evidence of direct studies, I had fun 
trying to find the answer! Thanks for a stimulating question.

A good source of information about the behaviour of mosquitoes can be found 
in the book:

The Biology of Mosquitoes, volume 2 by A.N. Clements, 1999. Chapman and 
ISBN: 0851993133 

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