Cancer science

Basophil activation by mosquito extracts in patients with hypersensitivity to mosquito bites.

PMID 25990049


Hypersensitivity to mosquito bites (HMB) is a cutaneous disorder belonging to the group of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated T/natural killer (NK)-cell lymphoproliferative diseases, and is primarily mediated by EBV-infected NK cells. It is characterized by intense local skin reactions accompanied by general symptoms after mosquito bites, and infiltration of EBV-infected NK cells into the bite sites. However, the mechanisms underlying these reactions have not been fully examined. We recently described the activation of circulating basophils by mosquito extracts in vitro in a patient with HMB. To further investigate this finding, we studied four additional patients with HMB. All patients showed typical clinical features of HMB after mosquito bites and they had NK lymphocytosis and high peripheral blood EBV DNA loads. We found evidence of EBV infection in NK cells through in situ hybridization that detected EBV-encoded small RNA-1, and flow cytometry showed HLA-DR expression on almost all NK cells. Basophil activation tests with the extracts of epidemic mosquitoes Culex pipiens pallens and Aedes albopictus showed positive responses to one or both extracts in all samples from patients with HMB, suggesting the presence of mosquito antigen-specific IgE and its binding to basophils. In particular, the extract of Aedes albopictus was able to activate basophils in all available patient samples. These results indicate that basophils and/or mast cells activated by mosquito bites may be involved in initiation and development of severe skin reactions to mosquito bites in HMB.