Fate of blood meal iron in mosquitoes

Guoli Zhou, Pete Kohlhepp, Dawn Geiser, Maria del Carmen Frasquillo, Luz Vazquez-Moreno, Joy J. Winzerling

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

86 Scopus citations


Iron is an essential element of living cells and organisms as a component of numerous metabolic pathways. Hemoglobin and ferric-transferrin in vertebrate host blood are the two major iron sources for female mosquitoes. We used inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (ICP-MS) and radioisotope labeling to quantify the fate of iron supplied from hemoglobin or as transferrin in Aedes aegypti. At the end of the first gonotrophic cycle, ∼87% of the ingested total meal heme iron was excreted, while 7% was distributed into the eggs and 6% was stored in different tissues. In contrast, ∼8% of the iron provided as transferrin was excreted and of that absorbed, 77% was allocated to the eggs and 15% distributed in the tissues. Further analyses indicate that of the iron supplied in a blood meal, ∼7% appears in the eggs and of this iron 98% is from hemoglobin and 2% from ferric-transferrin. Whereas, of iron from a blood meal retained in body of the female, ∼97% is from heme and <1% is from transferrin. Evaluation of iron-binding proteins in hemolymph and egg following intake of 59Fe-transferrin revealed that ferritin is iron loaded in these animals, and indicate that this protein plays a critical role in meal iron transport and iron storage in eggs in A. aegypti.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1169-1178
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Insect Physiology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2007


  • Blood meal
  • Egg iron reserve
  • Ferritin
  • Heme iron
  • Iron transport
  • Transferrin iron

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Insect Science


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