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Studies of Anaplasma phagocytophilum in sheep experimentally infected with the human NY-18 isolate: Characterization of tick feeding sites

AuthorsReppert, Emily; Galindo, Ruth C. ; Ayllón, Nieves ; Kocan, Katherine M.; Blouin, Edmour F.; Fuente, José de la
Ixodes scapularis
Tick bite site
NY-18 human strain
Anaplasma phagocytophilum
Issue Date2014
CitationTicks and Tick-borne Diseases 5(6): 744-752 (2014)
AbstractAnaplasma phagocytophilum, transmitted by ticks of the genus Ixodes, was first described in Scotland as the agent of tick-borne fever in sheep and more recently as the cause of human granulocytic anaplasmosis in the U.S. and Europe. We previously reported sheep as an experimental host for the human NY-18 isolate of A. phagocytophilum. While clinical signs were not observed and infected granulocytes were not seen in stained blood smears, these sheep served as a good host for infection of ticks. In this research we characterized tick feeding sites to better understand tick/host/pathogen interactions. Ixodes scapularis adults were allowed to feed for 2 and 4 days on experimentally infected sheep, after which biopsies were taken beneath tick feeding sites for histopathology, PCR and immunohistochemistry (IHC) studies. In addition, the expression of selected immune response genes was studied in blood and feeding site biopsies. While necrosis was too advanced in 4-day biopsies for accurate cell counts, higher numbers of eosinophils and neutrophils were found in 2-day biopsies from infected sheep as compared with the uninfected controls. An unexpected result was the documentation of higher dermal inflammation in infected sheep at sites without ticks. A. phagocytophilum infected granulocytes were localized by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in skin biopsies using rabbit antibodies against the recombinant A. phagocytophilum major surface protein 4 as the primary antibody for indirect peroxidase-anti-peroxidase and fluorescent antibody IHC. These infected cells are likely to be the source of infection for ticks. Sheep therefore served as good hosts for studying host/pathogen/tick interactions of this human strain of A. phagocytophilum, and provided a means of producing infected ticks for future studies on tick/pathogen developmental and transmission cycles.
Identifiersdoi: 10.1016/j.ttbdis.2014.05.014
e-issn: 1877-9603
issn: 1877-959X
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