Immunomodulatory arsenal of nymphal ticks

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Abstract

Ticks have developed their own immunomodulatory mechanisms to inhibit the host inflammatory response. One of them involves the ability to subvert the cytokine network at the site of tick feeding by secreting cytokine binding molecules. Most studies have focused on the immunomodulatory prowess of adult female ticks. Here we describe anti-cytokine activity in salivary gland extracts (SGEs) prepared from 2-day-fed nymphs of Dermacentor reticulatus Fabricius, Ixodes ricinus L., Rhipicephalus appendiculatus Neumann and Amblyomma variegatum Fabricius. Anti-CXCL8 activity was detected in nymphs of all species. Relatively high activity against CCL2, CCL3 and CCL11 was observed in SGEs of R. appendiculatus and A. variegatum nymphs, whereas SGEs of I. ricinus nymphs showed comparatively high anti-interleukin-2 (-IL-2) and anti-IL-4 activities. These data show that nymphs, which epidemiologically are usually more important than adults as disease vectors, possess a range of anti-cytokine activities that may facilitate pathogen transmission.

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