Tick Spit Shines a Light on the Initiation of Coagulation
Mammalian blood has numerous essential and well-known functions, including oxygen and nutrient delivery. This elixir is recognized by blood-feeding species of mosquitos, ticks, fleas, lice, leeches, and bats that rely on blood meals for nutrition, life cycle progression and survival. To obtain these blood meals that require minutes to a week or longer to complete1, these blood-sucking creatures must thwart endogenous defense systems contained within blood—immune and procoagulant cells and plasma proteins that rapidly clot (within 3-4 minutes) to provide first-line defense against breaches in vascular integrity. In a fascinating display of evolutionary agility, hemovores have adapted elegant mechanisms to evade detection and prevent blood coagulation by synthesizing an extensive armament of molecules with anesthetic, immunosuppressive, vasodilatory, anticoagulant, and profibrinolytic properties in mammals.1-3 Research characterizing the molecules generated by hemovores to bypass mammalian defense pathways has revealed exciting new mechanisms and in some cases, novel therapeutic approaches for anticoagulation.
- Received June 10, 2013.
- Accepted June 11, 2013.