Salivary antigens of the cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis

Parasite Immunol. 1997 Jan;19(1):13-9. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3024.1997.d01-140.x.


The cat flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis, is the major cause of flea bite hypersensitivity (FBH) in dogs and cats, yet little progress has been reported on identifying the antigens responsible. We obtained flea salivary antigens by washing secretions from containers probed by the mouthparts of fleas, and by extracting whole flea salivary glands. Mice were exposed to feeding fleas to generate antibodies to salivary antigens injected in vivo. The sera were tested for antibodies against the salivary antigens described and against a whole flea extract; in indirect ELISA, antibodies to salivary secretions were detected in 60% of the sera from mice exposed to feeding fleas. These sera identified four protein bands at apparent MW 56, 54, 42 and 40 K which corresponded to prominent protein bands in whole salivary gland extracts identified by protein staining after SDS-PAGE. Fixed sections of whole fleas exposed to the antisera showed that only structures within the salivary glands were identified. The salivary secretions and gland extracts are now being used to study immune responses of dogs suffering from FBH.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / blood
  • Antigens / immunology*
  • Antigens / isolation & purification
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cats / parasitology
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Mice
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Siphonaptera / anatomy & histology
  • Siphonaptera / immunology*


  • Antibodies
  • Antigens