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Tick ​​saliva inhibits the immune system of the skin and increases the risk of diseases – healing practice



Ticks cause profound changes in the immune system of the skin

ticks are worldwide parasites that feed on the blood of mammals. In this country, arachnids are mainly used as carriers of Pathogens known as tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease. A study has just shown that the saliva small animals immune defense the skin weakens and thus increases the risk of such diseases.

In science, it was not yet known why ticks are particularly dangerous vectors of diseases. A research team led by Johanna Strobl and Georg Stary from the Department of Dermatology at the Medical University of Vienna (MedUni) has now shown that tick saliva inhibits the defense function of the skin and reduces the risk of diseases such as tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) or high Lyme disease. The study was published in the journalClinical Investigation Journal“published.

Disrupted immune cell function

According Message the researchers carried out their investigations both on skin samples from test persons and on human skin models on which the bite of the common wood tick (Ixodes ricinus, colloquially: tick) was imitated.

In both cases, the scientists, led by Georg Stary (MedUni Vienna Department of Dermatology, CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine of the OeAW, Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Rare and Undiagnosed Diseases) in collaboration with Hannes Stockinger’s research group (Center for Pathophysiology, Infectiology and Immunology of the MedUni Vienna) patterns of rapid onset of immune modulation Party.

For example, the function of immune cells, particularly those important for immunological memory, has been shown to T cellswas disturbed by contact with tick saliva.

“Profound changes in the immune system”

Researchers have made similar observations in the early stages of model infections by Borrelia burgdorferi, the most common cause of Lyme disease.

They found that pre-incubation of Lyme disease-carrying bacteria (spirochetes) with extracts of tick salivary glands reduced the accumulation of immune cells hampered in the skin and increased exposure to pathogens.

“Overall, we show that sucking the tick causes profound changes in the immune system of the skin that inhibit the immune response. This means that dangerous pathogens, which are introduced into the skin with tick saliva, multiply more easily and can thus lead to infection.”, says Johanna Strobl, first author of the study. (ad)

Author and source information

This text corresponds to the specifications of the specialized medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been verified by health professionals.


  • Medical University of Vienna: Shown for the first time in a study: ticks weaken the immune system of the skin, (accessed on: October 1, 2022), medical university of vienna
  • Johanna Strobl, Verena Mündler, Sophie Müller, Anna Gindl, Sara Berent, Anna-Margarita Schötta, Lisa Kleissl, Clement Staud, Anna Redl, Luisa Unterluggauer, Ana Elena Aguilar González, Sophie Weninger, Denise Atzmüller, Romana Klasinc, Gerold Stanek, Mateusz Markowicz, Hannes Stockinger, Georg Stary: Tick feeding modulates the immune landscape of human skin to facilitate transmission of tick-borne pathogens; in: Journal of Clinical Investigation, (published on: 09/27/2022), Clinical Investigation Journal

Important Note:
This article contains general advice only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or treatment. It cannot substitute a visit to the doctor.

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