To identify potential vaccine candidates against Ixodes ricinus and tick-borne pathogen transmission, we have previously sequenced the salivary gland transcriptomes of female ticks infected or not with Bartonella henselae. The hypothesized potential of both IrSPI (I. ricinus serine protease inhibitor) and IrLip1 (I. ricinus lipocalin 1) as protective antigens decreasing tick feeding and/or the transmission of tick-borne pathogens was based on their presumed involvement in dampening the host immune response to tick feeding. Vaccine endpoints included tick larval and nymphal mortality, feeding, and molting in mice and sheep. Whether the antigens were administered individually or in combination, the vaccination of mice or sheep elicited a potent antigen-specific antibody response. However, and contrary to our expectations, vaccination failed to afford protection against the infestation of mice and sheep by I. ricinus nymphs and larvae, respectively. Rather, vaccination with IrSPI and IrLip1 appeared to enhance tick engorgement and molting and decrease tick mortality. To the best of our knowledge, these observations represent the first report of induction of vaccine-mediated enhancement in relation to anti-tick vaccination.
Keywords: Ixodes ricinus; anti-tick vaccination; salivary proteins; ticks.