Tick modulation of host immunity: an important factor in pathogen transmission

Int J Parasitol. 1999 Jun;29(6):851-9. doi: 10.1016/s0020-7519(99)00042-9.


Immunological interactions at the tick host interface involve innate and specific acquired host immune defenses and immunomodulatory countermeasures by the tick. Tick feeding stimulates host immune response pathways involving antigen-presenting cells, cytokines, B-cells, T-cells, circulating and homocytotropic antibodies, granulocytes, and an array of biologically active molecules. In response to host immune defenses, tick-mediated host immunosuppressive countermeasures inhibit: host antibody responses; complement activation; T-cell proliferation; and cytokine elaboration by macrophages and Th1-lymphocytes. Immunosuppressive proteins identified in tick salivary glands and saliva have been partially characterised. Tick-induced host immunosuppression facilitates blood meal acquisition and is an important factor in the transmission/establishment of the tick-borne disease-causing agent, Borrelia burgdorferi. A novel strategy for control of tick-borne pathogens is proposed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunity, Active
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Tick Infestations / immunology*
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / immunology
  • Tick-Borne Diseases / transmission*
  • Ticks / immunology*


  • Cytokines