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Exp Appl Acarol. 2009 Nov;49(3):193-208. doi: 10.1007/s10493-009-9255-1. Epub 2009 Feb 26.

Infection and replication of Bartonella species within a tick cell line.

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Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research, Department of Population Health and Pathobiology, North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, 4700 Hillsborough Street, Room 456, Raleigh, NC, 27606, USA.


Bartonella species are fastidious, gram negative bacteria, some of which are transmitted by arthropod vectors, including fleas, sandflies, and lice. There is very little information regarding the interaction and/or transmission capabilities of Bartonella species by ticks. In the present study, we demonstrate successful infection of the Amblyomma americanum cell line, AAE12, by seven Bartonella isolates and three Candidatus Bartonella species by electron or light microscopy. With the exception of Bartonella bovis, infection with all other examined Bartonella species induced cytopathic effects characterized by heavy cellular vacuolization and eventually cell lysis. Furthermore, using quantitative real time PCR (qPCR), we demonstrated significant amplification of two B. henselae genotype I isolates in the A. americanum cell line over a 5 days period. Ultimately, tick-cell derived Bartonella antigens may prove useful for the development of more sensitive diagnostic reagents and may assist in the development of an effective vaccine to prevent the further spread of disease caused by these organisms.

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