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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2011 Oct;11(10):1343-50. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2010.0197. Epub 2011 May 25.

Tick saliva represses innate immunity and cutaneous inflammation in a murine model of Lyme disease.

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Physiopathologie et Médecine Translationnelle, Groupe Borréliose de Lyme, Facultés de pharmacie et de Médecine, Université de Strasbourg , Strasbourg, France.


Lyme borreliosis is an arthropod-borne disease transmitted by the Ixodes tick. This spirochetal infection is first characterized by a local cutaneous inflammation, the erythema migrans. The skin constitutes a key interface in the development of the disease. During Borrelia inoculation, tick saliva affects the innate and adaptive immunity of the vertebrate host skin. Some key mediators of innate immunity such as antimicrobial peptides (cathelicidin and defensin families) have been identified as important initiators of skin inflammation. We analyzed the role of tick saliva on integumental innate immunity using different protocols of Borrelia infection, via syringe or direct tick transmission. When syringe inoculation was used, Borrelia triggered skin inflammation with induction of CRAMP, the mouse cathelicidin, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha. However, when Borrelia was transmitted directly via the tick, we observed a significant repression of inflammatory genes, suggesting a critical role of tick saliva in skin innate immunity. For all the protocols tested, a peak of intense Borrelia multiplication occurred in the skin between days 5 and 15, before bacterial dissemination to target organs. We conclude that Borrelia pathogens specifically use the tick saliva to facilitate their transmission to the host and that the skin constitutes an essential interface in the development of Lyme disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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