Ixodid ticks are well known for spreading transmitted tick-borne pathogens while being attached to their hosts for almost 1–2 weeks to obtain blood meals. Thus, they must secrete many immunosuppressant factors to combat the hosts’ immune system. In the present work, we investigated an immunosuppressant peptide of the hard tick Amblyomma variegatum
. This peptide, named amregulin, is composed of 40 residues with an amino acid sequence of HLHMHGNGATQVFKPRLVLKCPNAAQLIQPGKLQRQLLLQ. A cDNA of the precursor peptide was obtained from the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI, Bethesda, MD, USA). In rat splenocytes, amregulin exerts significant anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting the secretion of inflammatory factors in vitro
, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-8 (IL-8) and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ). In rat splenocytes, treated with amregulin, compared to lipopolysaccharide (LPS) alone, the inhibition of the above inflammatory factors was significant at all tested concentrations (2, 4 and 8 µg/mL). Amregulin shows strong free radical scavenging and antioxidant activities (5, 10 and 20 µg/mL) in vitro
. Amregulin also significantly inhibits adjuvant-induced paw inflammation in mouse models in vivo.
This peptide may facilitate the ticks’ successful blood feeding and may lead to host immunotolerance of the tick. These findings have important implications for the understanding of tick-host interactions and the co-evolution between ticks and the viruses that they bear.
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