Cytokine responses of C3H/HeN mice infested with Ixodes scapularis or Ixodes pacificus nymphs

Parasite Immunol. 2000 Jan;22(1):31-40. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3024.2000.00272.x.


Lyme borreliosis, caused by Borrelia burgdorferi, is transmitted by Ixodes scapularis in the eastern and midwestern United States and by Ixodes pacificus in the far-Western United States. Studies have shown that infestation with I. scapularis nymphs modulates host cytokine production; however, the influence of I. pacificus infestation on host cytokines remains uninvestigated. This study demonstrated how repeated infestations with pathogen-free I. scapularis or I. pacificus nymphs affects the production of the macrophage cytokines IL-1beta, IL-6 and tumour necrosis factor-alpha and the T lymphocyte cytokines IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10 and IFN-gamma by C3H/HeN mice. Female mice were infested once or twice with pathogen-free I. scapularis or I. pacificus nymphs, with a 14-day tick-free period between exposures. After each infestation, tick biology parameters were assessed and macrophage and T lymphocyte cytokine production measured by antigen capture ELISA. Acquired resistance to tick feeding did not develop after infestation with either tick species. Differences in cytokine production were observed between infested and noninfested mice, and between mice infested with either I. scapularis or I. pacificus nymphs. Infestations polarized cytokine production towards a Th2 cytokine profile, with suppression of pro-inflammatory Th1 cytokines. This pattern of cytokine production is more pronounced for I. pacificus infested mice.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / biosynthesis*
  • Female
  • Interferon-gamma / biosynthesis
  • Interleukins / biosynthesis
  • Ixodes / immunology*
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Species Specificity
  • Specific Pathogen-Free Organisms
  • Statistics, Nonparametric
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Th1 Cells / immunology
  • Th2 Cells / immunology
  • Tick Infestations / immunology*


  • Cytokines
  • Interleukins
  • Interferon-gamma