Changing the Recipe: Pathogen Directed Changes in Tick Saliva Components. Academic Article uri icon


  • Ticks are obligate hematophagous parasites and are important vectors of a wide variety of pathogens. These pathogens include spirochetes in the genus Borrelia that cause Lyme disease, rickettsial pathogens, and tick-borne encephalitis virus, among others. Due to their prolonged feeding period of up to two weeks, hard ticks must counteract vertebrate host defense reactions in order to survive and reproduce. To overcome host defense mechanisms, ticks have evolved a large number of pharmacologically active molecules that are secreted in their saliva, which inhibits or modulates host immune defenses and wound healing responses upon injection into the bite site. These bioactive molecules in tick saliva can create a privileged environment in the host's skin that tick-borne pathogens take advantage of. In fact, evidence is accumulating that tick-transmitted pathogens manipulate tick saliva composition to enhance their own survival, transmission, and evasion of host defenses. We review what is known about specific and functionally characterized tick saliva molecules in the context of tick infection with the genus Borrelia, the intracellular pathogen Anaplasma phagocytophilum, and tick-borne encephalitis virus. Additionally, we review studies analyzing sialome-level responses to pathogen challenge.

published proceedings

  • Int J Environ Res Public Health

altmetric score

  • 4.6

author list (cited authors)

  • Pham, M., Underwood, J., & Oliva Chvez, A. S.

citation count

  • 4

complete list of authors

  • Pham, Michael||Underwood, Jacob||Oliva Ch├ívez, Adela S

publication date

  • February 2021