Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33126686
Link to DOI – 10.3390/pathogens9110900
Pathogens 2020 Oct; 9(11):
Synthetic peptide vaccines were designed to target the neuropeptides innervating Ixodes ricinus salivary glands and hindgut and they were tested for their capacity to afford protective immunity against nymphs or larvae and Anaplasma phagocytophilum-infected nymph infestation, in mice and sheep, respectively. In both models, the assembly of SIFamide (SIFa) or myoinhibitory peptide (MIP) neuropeptides into multiple antigenic peptide constructs (MAPs) elicited a robust IgG antibody response following immunization. Nevertheless, no observable detrimental impact on nymphs was evidenced in mice, and, unfortunately, the number of engorged nymphs on sheep was insufficient for firm conclusions to be drawn, including for bacterial transmission. Regarding larvae, while vaccination of the sheep did not globally diminish tick feeding success or development, analyses of animals at the individual level revealed a negative correlation between anti-SIFa and MIP antibody levels and larva-to-nymph molting success for both antigens. Our results provide a proof of principle and precedent for the use of MAPs for the induction of immunity against tick peptide molecules. Although the present study did not provide the expected level of protection, it inaugurates a new strategy for protection against ticks based on the immunological targeting of key components of their nervous system.