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Keywords:

  • Borrelia;
  • dendritic cells;
  • tick saliva;
  • Toll-like receptor signalling

Summary

Dendritic cells are a sentinel in defending against pathogens and tick saliva facilitates transmission of tick-borne pathogens by modulating the host immune response. The maturation of dendritic cells is inhibited by tick saliva. To elucidate the mechanism of this inhibition, we tested the impact of Ixodes ricinus tick saliva on signalling pathways activated by Toll-like receptor (TLR-2) ligand and Borrelia afzelii in spleen dendritic cells. The activation of nuclear factor-κB (NF-κB) p65 and phosphatidylinositol-3 kinase (PI3K)/Akt pathways was decreased by tick saliva upon both TLR-2 and Borrelia stimulation. Among the mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPK), the activation of extracellular matrix-regulated kinase (Erk1/2) was suppressed by tick saliva, but not p38. In response to spirochaetes, the amount of TNF-α decreased in the presence of tick saliva which was mediated by selective suppression of Erk1/2, NF-κB and Akt as tick saliva mimicked the effect of their specific inhibitors, UO126, IKK-IV and LY294002, respectively. Saliva-induced enhancement of IL-10 was not observed in the presence of specific inhibitor of Protein Kinase A (PKA), H-89, suggesting the involvement of PKA pathway in IL-10 production. Our cumulative data show that tick saliva interferes with several signalling pathways, thus modulating the immune functions of dendritic cells.