ANGELS – There is always a friend or family member who is destroyed during camping trips by mosquito bites. Although it sounds like a cruel and unusual punishment inflicted on these unfortunate victims by the gods, scientists say they finally have a reason why and why mosquitoes seem to choose their targets.
A group of researchers from Rockefeller University’s Neurogenetics and Behavior Laboratory published findings in the journal Cell on Oct. 18 explaining why some people are mosquito magnets. They hoped their research could prevent mosquito-borne diseases.
Researchers have found that different compounds in the skin actually attract the mosquito species best known for spreading the viruses that cause dengue fever, yellow fever and Zika, more specifically known as Temples of the Egyptians mosquitoes.
Sixty-four volunteers wore nylon sleeves and were exposed to a host of mosquitoes in a glass chamber on their arms for six hours during the study. The researchers found that the attractiveness of the volunteers to mosquitoes varied quite widely.
After the mosquitoes were released and then collected, the researchers were able to track down the mosquito repellent magnets through the nylon sleeves worn by the study participants.
“Samples from the most attractive volunteer were four times more attractive to mosquitoes than those from the next most attractive volunteer – and more than 100 times more attractive than those from the two least attractive people,” the researchers noted.
“We had no preconceived idea of what we were going to find,” said study leader Leslie Vosshall. Scientists said they found that those that attracted the most mosquitoes had high levels of the carboxylic acid on their skin.
Carboxylic acids are large molecules that contain bacteria that attract bloodthirsty insects.
Researchers say more is needed to understand why exactly the carboxylic acid makes mosquitoes so hungry, but other factors like body heat have an impact on this phenomenon.
Scientists have also discovered that mosquitoes actually use molecules called co-receptors to help detect odors on human skin.
“The researchers performed a series of experiments where they knocked out these co-receptors in different groups of mosquitoes. For three of the co-receptors, knocking out each decreased the mosquitoes’ general interest in human odors. , mosquitoes could still distinguish between more attractive and less attractive people,” the researchers note.
The researchers said they could not reduce the levels of carboxylic acids present in the subjects’ skin, and it appears that mosquito attraction is not a trait that is likely to go away.
“Some subjects were in the study for several years, and we saw that if they were a mosquito magnet, they were still a mosquito magnet,” said Drs. Maria Elena De Obaldia, fellow researcher wrote. “A lot could have changed about the subject or his behaviors during this time, but it was a very stable property of the person.”