Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Tick-borne spirochetes include borreliae that cause Lyme disease and relapsing fever in humans. They survive in a triangle of parasitic interactions between the spirochete and its vertebrate host, the spirochete and its tick vector, and the host and the tick. Until recently, the significance of vector-host interactions in the transmission of arthropod-borne disease agents has been overlooked. However, there is now compelling evidence that the pharmacological activity of tick saliva can have a profound effect on pathogen transmission both from infected tick to uninfected host, and from infected host to uninfected tick. The salivary glands of ticks provide a pharmacopoeia of anti-inflammatory, anti-haemostatic and anti-immune molecules. These include bioactive proteins that control histamine, bind immunoglobulins, and inhibit the alternative complement cascade. The effect of these molecules is to provide a privileged site at the tick-host interface in which borreliae and other tick-borne pathogens are sheltered from the normal innate and acquired host immune mechanisms that combat infections. Understanding the key events at the tick vector-host interface, that promote spirochete infection and transmission, will provide a better understanding of the epidemiology and ecology of these important human pathogens.


Journal article


Journal of molecular microbiology and biotechnology

Publication Date





381 - 386


CEH Institute of Virology and Environmental Microbiology, Oxford, UK.


Animals, Humans, Ticks, Borrelia, Borrelia Infections, Lyme Disease, Relapsing Fever, Tick-Borne Diseases, Insect Vectors