Distribution of 'promoter' sandflies associated with incidence of classic Kaposi's sarcoma

V. Ascoli, G. Senis, A. Zucchetto, L. Valerio, L. Facchinelli, M. Budroni, L. Dal Maso, M. Coluzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The patchy geographical distributions of classic Kaposi's sarcoma (KS) and human herpesvirus type 8 (HHV-8), better known as Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV) remain unexplained. It has been proposed that certain species of bloodsucking insects ('promoter arthropods') promote the reactivation of HHV-8/KSHV and facilitate both HHV-8/KSHV transmission and KS development. This hypothesis was tested by sampling the presence and density of human-biting Diptera with CDC light traps in two areas of Sardinia with contrasting incidence rates of classic KS. In total, 11 030 specimens (99.9% sandflies and 0.1% mosquitoes) belonging to 10 species were collected from 40 rural sites. Five of these species are considered to be possible promoter arthropods because of the irritation their bites cause: Phlebotomus perniciosus Newstead; Phlebotomus perfiliewi Parrot (Diptera: Psychodidae); Aedes berlandi Seguy; Culiseta annulata (Schrank) and Culex theileri Theobald (Diptera: Culicidae). Five species are probable 'non-promoters' because their bites are not particularly irritating: Culiseta longiareolata (Macquart); Culex pipiens s.l.; Anopheles algeriensis Theobald; Anopheles maculipennis s.l., and Anopheles plumbeus Stephens. A significant correlation was found between the geographical distribution of promoter arthropods and incidence rates of KS (Spearman's r = 0.59,P <0.01). Promoter arthropods were more likely to be caught in areas with cutaneous leishmaniasis and a past high prevalence of malaria, and in areas of limestone, acid volcanic soil and cereal cultivation. The study supports the association between promoter arthropods and classic KS, which may explain the geographic variability of KS and HHV-8/KSHV, and highlights the links with a number of variables previously associated with the incidence of KS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
JournalMedical and Veterinary Entomology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Bloodsucking insects
  • Italy
  • Kaposi's sarcoma
  • Phlebotomus perfiliewi
  • Phlebotomus perniciosus
  • Sardinia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Insect Science
  • veterinary(all)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Parasitology


Dive into the research topics of 'Distribution of 'promoter' sandflies associated with incidence of classic Kaposi's sarcoma'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this