Methodology for Detection of Multiple Tick Pathogens

Deer Tick Questing
Blacklegged Deer Tick (Ixodes scapularis)

In this study published by Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry, researchers used mass spectrometry-based proteome profiling and parallel reaction monitoring to detect multiple pathogens in black-legged ticks collected from the Southern Tier New York.  Analysis from five combined ticks showed high confidence for identifying 2,052 tick proteins and 41 pathogen proteins. Results showed high peptide spectral match counts for both Rickettsia (8 out of 10 ticks) and Borrelia (5 out of ten) species; 3 out of 10 carried both of these pathogens. Lower counts were found for other less common pathogens, including Anaplasma phagocytophilum and only 1 tick was found to carry no detectable bacteria.

These methods have proven successful for identification and screening of tick-borne pathogen surveillance as well as providing awareness about tick-borne diseases (TBDs) in geographically specific areas. They might also help in the development of biomarkers to provide direct diagnosis  of TBDs, as well as differentiating between different tick-borne diseases, which could improve treatment courses for patients.

This highly specific testing methodology is efficient at defining the expression of different types of pathogen proteins in infected ticks; insight which may better illuminate interactions of tick-pathogens at the molecular level, especially the expression of pathogen surface proteins in ticks.

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