Relation between HLA genes, human skin volatiles and attractiveness of humans to malaria mosquitoes

N.O. Verhulst, H. Beijleveld, Y.T. Qiu, C.A. Maliepaard, W. Verduyn, G.W. Haasnoot, F.H.J. Claas, R. Mumm, H.J. Bouwmeester, W. Takken, J.J.A. van Loon, R.C. Smallegange

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40 Citations (Scopus)


Chemical cues are considered to be the most important cues for mosquitoes to find their hosts and humans can be ranked for attractiveness to mosquitoes based on the chemical cues they emit. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) genes are considered to be involved in the regulation of human body odor and may therefore affect human attractiveness to mosquitoes, and hence, affect the force of malaria transmission. In the present study the correlations between HLA profiles, human skin volatiles and human attractiveness to the malaria mosquito Anopheles gambiae Giles sensu stricto were examined. Skin emanations of 48 volunteers were collected by rubbing a foot over glass beads. Previously the attractiveness of these emanations to An. gambiae was determined. In this study, the chemical composition of these emanations was determined by gas chromatography–mass spectroscopy (GC–MS) and blood samples of all volunteers were taken for HLA analysis. Hierarchical cluster analysis (HCA), partial least squares discriminant analysis (PLS-DA), Fisher’s exact test and random forest regression were used to test for correlations between individuals classified as either highly or poorly attractive to mosquitoes and their HLA profile and volatile composition. HLA profiling suggests that people carrying HLA gene Cw*07 are more attractive to mosquitoes. GC–MS revealed that limonene, 2-phenylethanol and 2-ethyl-1-hexanol were associated with individuals that were poorly attractive to An.gambiae and lactic acid, 2-methylbutanoic acid, tetradecanoic acid and octanal with individuals that were highly attractive. Such compounds offer potential for disruption of mosquito behavior in malaria intervention programs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)87-93
JournalInfection, Genetics and Evolution
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • major histocompatibility complex
  • gambiae-sensu-stricto
  • human axillary odor
  • anopheles-gambiae
  • aedes-aegypti
  • mating preferences
  • carbon dioxide
  • essential oils
  • host-seeking
  • body odors


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