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Parasitol Res. 2002 Mar;88(3):192-7.

Immunosuppressive effects of ixodes ricinus tick saliva or salivary gland extracts on innate and acquired immune response of BALB/c mice.

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Institute of Zoology, Neuch√Ętel, Switzerland.


Saliva and salivary gland extract (SGE) of Ixodes ricinus ticks have suppressive effects on the innate immune response of BALB/c mice. Tick saliva prevents hemolysis of sheep red blood cells (SRBC) by the human alternative pathway of complement. The adaptive immune response is also modulated by tick antigens (saliva or SGE). When stimulated in vitro with increasing doses of tick antigens, the proliferation and IL-4 production of draining lymph node T cells of mice infested with nymphal ticks increase, peak and then decrease. These results indicate that immunostimulative and immunosuppressive molecules have competing effects in tick saliva or in SGE. I. ricinus saliva inhibits, in a dose-dependent manner, splenic T cell proliferation in response to concanavalin A (ConA). Tick SGE or saliva injected intraperitoneally to BALB/c mice simultaneously with SRBC systemically immunosuppress the anti-SRBC response as shown in vitro by the reduced responsiveness of sensitized splenic T cells to restimulation with SRBC. In brief some components of SGE or tick saliva reduce the responsiveness of draining lymph node T cells and of sensitized splenic T cells in vitro. The responsiveness of naive splenic T cells to ConA stimulation in vitro is also decreased by tick saliva. Modulation of host responses by tick antigens may facilitate tick feeding, transmission and the propagation of pathogens.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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