Aedes aegypti peritrophic matrix and its interaction with heme during blood digestion

Valéria Pascoa, Pedro L. Oliveira, Marílvia Dansa-Petretski, José R. Silva, Patricia H. Alvarenga, Marcelo Jacobs-Lorena, Francisco J.A. Lemos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


A large amount of heme is produced upon digestion of red cell hemoglobin in the midgut of mosquitoes. The interaction between heme and the peritrophic matrix (PM) was studied in Aedes aegypti. By light microscopy, the PM appeared as a light brownish layer between the intestinal epithelium and the alimentary bolus. This natural color can be attributed to the presence of heme bound to the matrix. In histochemical studies, a diffuse peroxidase activity of the heme molecules was clearly observed between the erythrocytes and the PM at 14 h after the blood meal. This activity tends to increase and concentrate in the PM reaching its maximum thickness at 24 h after feeding. Most of the heme of the PM was found associated to with enormous number of small electron-dense granules. The amount of heme bound to the PM increased in parallel with the progression of digestion, reaching a maximum at 48 h after feeding, when 18 nmol of heme were found in an individual matrix. The association of heme with PM from insects fed with plasma is saturable, suggesting the existence of specific binding sites for hemin in the PM. Taken all together, our data indicate that the PM performs a central role in heme detoxification in this insect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-523
Number of pages7
JournalInsect Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Aedes aegypti
  • Blood digestion
  • Heme
  • Mosquito
  • Peritrophic matrix

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Insect Science


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