Tick saliva: Recent advances and implications for vector competence


Secretions of the tick salivary glands are essential to the successful completion of the prolonged feeding of these ectoparasites as well as the conduit by which most tick-borne pathogens are transmitted to the host. In ixodid ticks the salivary glands are the organs of osmoregulation, and excess water from the bloodmeal is returned via saliva into the host. Host blood must continue to flow into the feeding lesion as well as remain fluid in the tick mouthparts and gut. The host's haemostatic mechanisms are thwarted by various anti-platelet aggregatory, anticoagulatory and anti-vasoconstrictory factors in tick saliva. Saliva components suppress the immune and inflammatory response of the host permitting the ticks to remain on the host for an extended period of time and, adventitiously, enhancing the transmission and establishment of tick-borne pathogens. Over the years much work has been done on the numerous enzyme and pharmacological activities found in the tick saliva. The present article reviews the most recent work on salivary gland secretions with special emphasis on how they favour pathogen transmission.

Publication Title

Medical and Veterinary Entomology