Acquired Resistance to Ticks

Expression of Resistance by C4-deficient Guinea Pigs

Stephen K. WikelU.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Rocky Mountain Laboratory, Hamilton, Montana 59840

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Hartley and C4-deficient guinea pigs developed resistance to the ixodid tick. Dermacentor andersoni, after one infestation. Resistance was characterized by resistant animals of both groups allowing significantly fewer larvae (5–25%) to engorge during a second infestation than during an initial infestation (70–90%). Resistant animals in both groups developed cutaneous reactions at the site of tick attachment which were characterized by intraepidermal vesicles containing numerous basophils. In previous studies, tick-resistant Hartley guinea pigs depleted of complement by cobra venom factor were not able to express the resistance response and the skin reactions at the tick attachment sites were depleted of basophils. The use of cobra venom factor as an anti-complement probe could not distinguish the relative importance of the classical and/or alternate pathways of complement activation in the expression of tick resistance. The present study reports that C4-deficient guinea pigs, those with a total deficiency in the classical pathway of complement activation, but with an intact alternate pathway, can acquire and display tick resistance in a fashion similar to Hartley guinea pigs. This finding provides evidence that the alternate pathway of complement activation is important in the expression of tick resistance.