What's behind a sand fly bite? The profound effect of sand fly saliva on host hemostasis, inflammation and immunity

Infect Genet Evol. 2014 Dec;28:691-703. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2014.07.028. Epub 2014 Aug 10.


Sand flies are blood-feeding insects and vectors of the Leishmania parasite. For many years, saliva of these insects has represented a gold mine for the discovery of molecules with anti-hemostatic and immuno-modulatory activities. Furthermore, proteins in sand fly saliva have been shown to be a potential vaccine against leishmaniasis and also markers of vector exposure. A bottleneck to progress in these areas of research has been the identification of molecules responsible for the observed activities and properties of saliva. Over the past decade, rapid advances in transcriptomics and proteomics resulted in the completion of a number of sialomes (salivary gland transcriptomes) and the expression of several recombinant salivary proteins from different species of sand fly vectors. This review will provide readers with a comprehensive update of recent advances in the characterization of these salivary molecules and their biological activities and offer insights pertaining to their protective effect against leishmaniasis and their potential as markers of vector exposure.

Keywords: Immunity; Leishmaniasis; Salivary protein; Sand flies; Transcriptomes; Vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Hemostasis
  • Host-Parasite Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Immunity
  • Inflammation
  • Insect Bites and Stings*
  • Insect Vectors
  • Leishmania
  • Leishmaniasis / parasitology
  • Leishmaniasis / prevention & control
  • Leishmaniasis / transmission
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Psychodidae*
  • Saliva*
  • Vaccines


  • Vaccines