Many pathogens are transmitted by tick bites, including Anaplasma spp., Ehrlichia spp., Rickettsia spp., Babesia and Theileria sensu stricto species. These pathogens cause infectious diseases both in animals and humans. Different types of immune effector mechanisms could be induced in hosts by these microorganisms, triggered either directly by pathogen-derived antigens or indirectly by molecules released by host cells binding to these antigens. The components of innate immunity, such as natural killer cells, complement proteins, macrophages, dendritic cells and tumor necrosis factor alpha, cause a rapid and intense protection for the acute phase of infectious diseases. Moreover, the onset of a pro-inflammatory state occurs upon the activation of the inflammasome, a protein scaffold with a key-role in host defense mechanism, regulating the action of caspase-1 and the maturation of interleukin-1β and IL-18 into bioactive molecules. During the infection caused by different microbial agents, very similar profiles of the human innate immune response are observed including secretion of IL-1α, IL-8, and IFN-α, and suppression of superoxide dismutase, IL-1Ra and IL-17A release. Innate immunity is activated immediately after the infection and inflammasome-mediated changes in the pro-inflammatory cytokines at systemic and intracellular levels can be detected as early as on days 2-5 after tick bite. The ongoing research field of "inflammasome biology" focuses on the interactions among molecules and cells of innate immune response that could be responsible for triggering a protective adaptive immunity. The knowledge of the innate immunity mechanisms, as well as the new targets of investigation arising by bioinformatics analysis, could lead to the development of new methods of emergency diagnosis and prevention of tick-borne infections.
Keywords: gene ontology analysis; inflammasome; innate immune response; tick borne pathogens.