Chapter 6 : The Human Reaction to Ticks

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Diseases transmitted by ticks are the primary concern when dealing with human infestation. One's knowledge of human reactions is largely based on case reports and retrospective studies, whereas most of the understanding of the tick-host interface is derived from experimental work with domestic and laboratory animals. The idea of immunological control of ticks dates back to 1939 (196). The environmental advantages of anti-tick vaccines may outweigh the benefits of acaricides in many settings. The concept of saliva-activated pathogen transmission has led to the idea of novel transmission blocking vaccines. These would also be of interest for human use and are currently being explored in several laboratories. This chapter first discusses the common features of tick biology and pharmacology in the context of the physiology of tick feeding. Then, it describes immunological reactions before separately reviewing the pathological conditions caused by ticks in their own right, i.e., local skin reactions and systemic toxicoses. Finally, the chapter briefly explores current research directions, as they are rapidly changing one's perception of the tick-host interface and have led to the use of ticks as innovative pharmacological repositories.

Citation: Müller-Doblier U, Wikel S. 2005. The Human Reaction to Ticks, p 102-122. In Goodman J, Dennis D, Sonenshine D, Tick-Borne Diseases of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816490.ch6

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Figure 1

Schematic representation of tick attachment variants in hard ticks. The depth of feeding and the cement cone structure show a high degree of variability between different genera and species of hard ticks. This has important implications for the physiological and immunological structure of the tick-host interface. Adapted from Moorhouse ( ) with the permission of the publisher.

Citation: Müller-Doblier U, Wikel S. 2005. The Human Reaction to Ticks, p 102-122. In Goodman J, Dennis D, Sonenshine D, Tick-Borne Diseases of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816490.ch6
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Image of Figure 2
Figure 2

Tick anticoagulants. A simplified scheme of the blood coagulation cascade, indicating factors inhibited by various tick species. Green arrows indicate the conversion of a factor. Factors targeted by tick molecules are highlighted in pink. Phospholipids (PL) and Ca (Ca) are cofactors in several steps. The analysis of all the inhibitors identified to date indicates evolutionary significant inhibition targets that may also be useful targets for the pharmacological control of blood clotting. (a) inhibitor of factor VII (65) and (b) the tissue factor pathway inhibitor homologue Ixolaris ( ) both inhibit the extrinsic pathway. (c) Factor X inhibitors have been identified in numerous species, e.g., ( ), ( ), ( ), ( ), or ( ). (d) A second activity in targeting the intrinsic pathway is factor IX inhibitor, which was described more than 35 years ago ( ). (e) Recently Salp14, a third intrinsic pathway inhibitor, was described from ( ). The common pathway of coagulation is targeted by . factor V inhibitor ( ). (g) Thrombin, the activated factor II, is inhibited by ( ), americanin from ( ), and savignin from ( ). The inhibition of thrombin prevents the conversion of fibrinogen into fibrin as well as the activation of factor XIII, which contributes to the polymerization of fibrin monomers. (h) produces variabilin, an antagonist of platelet fibrinogen and vibronectin receptors. (i) Platelet aggregation is also inhibited by the apyrase activity detected in ( ), ( ), and ( ).

Citation: Müller-Doblier U, Wikel S. 2005. The Human Reaction to Ticks, p 102-122. In Goodman J, Dennis D, Sonenshine D, Tick-Borne Diseases of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816490.ch6
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Table 1

Tick species implicated in human toxicosis and paralysis syndromes

Citation: Müller-Doblier U, Wikel S. 2005. The Human Reaction to Ticks, p 102-122. In Goodman J, Dennis D, Sonenshine D, Tick-Borne Diseases of Humans. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816490.ch6

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