Rhipicephalus (Boophilus) microplus: clotting time in tick-infested skin varies according to local inflammation and gene expression patterns in tick salivary glands

Exp Parasitol. 2010 Apr;124(4):428-35. doi: 10.1016/j.exppara.2009.12.013. Epub 2010 Jan 4.


Ticks deposit saliva at the site of their attachment to a host in order to inhibit haemostasis, inflammation and innate and adaptive immune responses. The anti-haemostatic properties of tick saliva have been described by many studies, but few show that tick infestations or its anti-haemostatic components exert systemic effects in vivo. In the present study, we extended these observations and show that, compared with normal skin, bovine hosts that are genetically susceptible to tick infestations present an increase in the clotting time of blood collected from the immediate vicinity of haemorrhagic feeding pools in skin infested with different developmental stages of Rhipicepahlus microplus; conversely, we determined that clotting time of tick-infested skin from genetically resistant bovines was shorter than that of normal skin. Coagulation and inflammation have many components in common and we determined that in resistant bovines, eosinophils and basophils, which are known to contain tissue factor, are recruited in greater numbers to the inflammatory site of tick bites than in susceptible hosts. Finally, we correlated the observed differences in clotting times with the expression profiles of transcripts for putative anti-haemostatic proteins in different developmental stages of R. microplus fed on genetically susceptible and resistant hosts: we determined that transcripts coding for proteins similar to these molecules are overrepresented in salivary glands from nymphs and males fed on susceptible bovines. Our data indicate that ticks are able to modulate their host's local haemostatic reactions. In the resistant phenotype, larger amounts of inflammatory cells are recruited and expression of anti-coagulant molecules is decreased tick salivary glands, features that can hamper the tick's blood meal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Cattle
  • Cattle Diseases / blood*
  • Cattle Diseases / genetics
  • Cattle Diseases / parasitology
  • Cattle Diseases / pathology
  • Computational Biology
  • DNA, Complementary / chemistry
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Library
  • Host-Parasite Interactions
  • Inflammation / blood
  • Inflammation / parasitology
  • Inflammation / veterinary
  • Male
  • Metalloproteases / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Metalloproteases / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / isolation & purification
  • Rhipicephalus / genetics
  • Rhipicephalus / physiology*
  • Salivary Glands / enzymology
  • Salivary Glands / physiology
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides / genetics
  • Skin / blood supply
  • Skin / parasitology*
  • Skin / pathology
  • Tick Infestations / blood
  • Tick Infestations / genetics
  • Tick Infestations / pathology
  • Tick Infestations / veterinary*
  • Whole Blood Coagulation Time


  • DNA, Complementary
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Salivary Proteins and Peptides
  • Metalloproteases