Increased transcription of Glutathione S-transferases in acaricide exposed scabies mites

K Mounsey, C Pasay, L Arlian, Marjorie Morgan, D Holt, Bart Currie, Shelley Walton, James McCarthy

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    70 Citations (Scopus)


    Background. Recent evidence suggests that Sarcoptes scabiei var. hominis mites collected from scabies endemic communities in northern Australia show increasing tolerance to 5% permethrin and oral ivermectin. Previous findings have implicated detoxification pathways in developing resistance to these acaricides. We investigated the contribution of Glutathione S-transferase (GST) enzymes to permethrin and ivermectin tolerance in scabies mites using biochemical and molecular approaches. Results. Increased in vitro survival following permethrin exposure was observed in S. scabiei var. hominis compared to acaricide nave mites (p < 0.0001). The addition of the GST inhibitor diethyl maleate restored in vitro permethrin susceptibility, confirming GST involvement in permethrin detoxification. Assay of GST enzymatic activity in mites demonstrated that S. scabiei var. hominis mites showed a two-fold increase in activity compared to nave mites (p < 0.0001). Increased transcription of three different GST molecules was observed in permethrin resistant S. scabiei var. canis-mu 1 (p < 0.0001), delta 1 (p < 0.001), and delta 3 (p < 0.0001). mRNA levels of GST mu 1, delta 3 and P-glycoprotein also significantly increased in S. scabiei var. hominis mites collected from a recurrent crusted scabies patient over the course of ivermectin treatment. Conclusions. These findings provide further support for the hypothesis that increased drug metabolism and efflux mediate permethrin and ivermectin resistance in scabies mites and highlight the threat of emerging acaricide resistance to the treatment of scabies worldwide. This is one of the first attempts to define specific genes involved in GST mediated acaricide resistance at the transcriptional level, and the first application of such studies to S. scabiei, a historically challenging ectoparasite.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number43
    Pages (from-to)1-9
    Number of pages9
    JournalParasites & Vectors
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 2010


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