The clinical signs of a Sarcoptes scabiei (De Geer) (Acari: Sarcoptidae) infestation are initially delayed, which suggests that the mites can depress the immune/inflammatory response. The purpose of this study was to investigate the modulatory properties of scabies mites in vivo at the gene expression level in a secondary lymphoid organ that is involved in initiating an immune response to the parasite. We found that substances from scabies mites influenced the expression of mRNA for molecules that participate in the sequestering of lymphocytes in the periarteriolar lymphoid sheath, primary follicle, and marginal zone of the spleen. Mice exposed to live scabies mites exhibited decreased mRNA expression for the adhesion molecules intercellular adhesion molecule (ICAM)-1, ICAM-2 and L-selectin; the cytokines tumor necrosis factor (TNF)α and CCL5; and the receptors for several other cytokines including TNF and interferon γ. In addition, exposure to live mites or vaccination with a scabies extract resulted in reduced expression of mRNA for B7-2, CD40, CD4, CD8, and CD45, thereby potentially reducing the physical interactions between B cells and T-helper (Th)2 helper cells, between Th1 and Tc cells, and between T-helper cells and antigen-presenting cells, thus depressing their function in response to thymus-dependent antigen. Live scabies mites also depressed expression of toll-like receptors 2, 4, and 6. In conclusion, our results indicate that live mites produce substances that can down-regulate expression of adhesion molecules, cytokines, chemokines, chemokine receptors, and lymphocyte surface molecules involved in leukocyte sequestering and the interaction of B and T cells during activation of an immune response in the spleen.
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Vol. 44 • No. 6