For successful blood-feeding, ticks must confront the host immune system comprising many cells and signaling molecules, mainly cytokines and growth factors. These factors bind to specific receptors on the cell membranes, thereby initiating a signaling cascade that leads to distinct cellular activities. Ticks are able to manipulate host immune responses via molecules secreted from their salivary glands. Saliva of ixodid ticks contains factors binding important cytokines and their subgroup, chemokines. Here we demonstrate that constituents of tick salivary gland extract (SGE) also appear to bind growth factors: transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β1), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), fibroblast growth factor (FGF-2), and hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), depending on tick species. SGE derived from Amblyomma variegatum reacted with TGF-β1, PDGF, FGF-2 and HGF; Dermacentor reticulatus and Rhipicephalus appendiculatus with TGF-β1, FGF-2 and HGF; and Ixodes ricinus and Ixodes scapularis with PDGF. SGE from the species targeting PDGF (A. variegatum and I. ricinus) also inhibited cell proliferation in vitro and induced a change in morphology of different cell lines. These effects correlated with disruption of the actin cytoskeleton. Such effects were not observed with SGE of the two species that did not target PDGF. Targeting of wound healing growth factors appears to be yet another strategy ixodid ticks adopt for suppression of inflammation and successful haematophagy
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