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The saliva of blood-feeding arthropods modulates their vertebrate hosts' haemostatic, inflammatory and immune responses to facilitate blood feeding. In a previous study, we showed that salivary gland products from ixodid tick species also manipulate the wound-healing response by targeting at least four different mammalian growth factors: transforming growth factor β1, hepatocyte growth factor, fibroblast growth factor 2 and platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF). In addition, species that showed PDGF-binding activity also inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and induced changes in cell morphology accompanied by disruption of the actin cytoskeleton. Here, we show a correlation between the length of the tick hypostome, the sclerotized feeding tube of the mouthparts inserted into the host's skin and anti-PDGF activity. This apparent link between hypostome length, and hence the potential depth of skin damage, and PDGF-binding activity was not apparent for the other growth factors or for other cytokines important in wound healing (keratinocyte growth factor, interleukin 6 and stromal cell-derived factor 1). However, PDGF-binding activity was no longer correlated with anti-cell activities, indicating that an additional as yet unidentified activity in tick saliva may affect cellular changes in wound repair.

Original publication




Journal article


Parasite Immunol

Publication Date





32 - 42


Growth factor, immune modulation, tick saliva, Animals, Cell Line, Cell Proliferation, Cell Shape, Cytokines, Female, Fibroblasts, Ixodidae, Keratinocytes, Mice, Mouth, NIH 3T3 Cells, Platelet-Derived Growth Factor, Protein Binding, Saliva, Salivary Glands, Tissue Extracts