Ticks and the effects of their saliva on growth factors involved in skin wound healing


J Venom Res 
(2020), Vol 10, 45-52

Published online: 22 September 2020

Full Text (Bartikova ~912kb) | (Bartikova Supplementry Data ~428kb)

Pavlína Bartíková1,*, Mária Kazimírová2 and Iveta Štibrániová1

1Biomedical Research Center, Institute of Virology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 845 05 Bratislava, Slovakia

2Institute of Zoology, Slovak Academy of Sciences, Dúbravská cesta 9, 845 06 Bratislava, Slovakia

*Correspondence to: Pavlína Bartíková, Email: virupaca@savba.sk

Received: 10 June 2020 | Revised: 18 September 2020 | Accepted: 22 September 2020

© Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article, published under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0). This license permits non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction of this article, provided the original work is appropriately acknowledged, with correct citation details.


Ticks are unique hematophagous arthropods and possess an astounding array of salivary molecules that ensure their unnoticed and prolonged attachment to the host skin. Furthermore, ticks are very effective vectors of a diverse spectrum of pathogens. In order to feed, tick chelicerae cut the host epidermis and their hypostome penetrates through the layers of the skin. As a result of laceration of the skin and rupturing blood vessels, a pool of blood is formed in the dermis, serving for intermittent blood sucking and secretion of saliva. Cutaneous injury caused by tick mouthparts should normally elicit wound healing, a complex biological process coordinated by interaction among different host cells, numerous signalling pathways and by a variety of soluble factors including growth factors. Growth factors, endogenous signalling proteins involved in various biological events, are key players in all phases of the skin repair process. Maintaining feeding site integrity by overcoming sequential phases of wound healing is particularly important for ixodid ticks and is governed by bioactive molecules in their saliva. Tick saliva is a complex mixture of proteins, peptides, and non-peptide molecules and its composition depends on the feeding phase, tick developmental stage, gender and/or the presence/absence of microbial agents. In addition to already demonstrated anti-haemostatic, anti-cytokine and anti-chemokine activities, anti-growth factors activities were also detected in saliva of some tick species. In consequence of counteracting host defences by ticks, tick-borne pathogens can be transmitted to and disseminated in the host. Elucidation of the complex interplay between ticks – pathogens – host cutaneous immunity could lead to improved vector and pathogens control strategies. Additionally, tick saliva bioactive molecules have a promising therapeutic perspective to cure some human diseases associated with dysregulation of specific cytokines/growth factors and alterations in their signalling pathways.

KEYWORDS: Ticks, saliva, growth factors, wound healing, host immunity


Related Posts

Bothrops moojeni venom and its components – an overview
Evaluation of The effects of Anti-Inflammatory Drugs on Local and Systemic manifestations of snakebite: A cross-sectional study
Identification and characterisation of novel wasp mastoparans and chemotactic peptides from the venom of social wasp Polistes stigma (Hymenoptera: Vespidae: Polistinae)