Few studies have examined the cellular immune response of ticks, and further research on the characterization of the hemocytes of ticks is required, particularly on those of Rhipicephalus sanguineus (Latreille) because of the medical and veterinary importance of this tick. The aims of this study were to characterize the morphology and the ultrastructure of the different types of hemocytes of adult R. sanguineus and to determine the population abundance and the ultrastructural changes in the hemocytes of ticks infected with Leishmania infantum. The hemocytes were characterized through light and transmission electron microscopy. Within the variability of circulating cells in the hemolymph of adult R. sanguineus, five cell types were identified, which were the prohemocytes, plasmatocytes, granulocytes, spherulocytes, and adipohemocytes. The prohemocytes were the smallest cells found in the hemolymph. The plasmatocytes had polymorphic morphology with vesicles and cytoplasmic projections. The granulocytes had an elliptical shape with the cytoplasm filled with granules of different sizes and electrodensities. The spherulocytes were characterized by several spherules of uniform shapes and sizes that filled the entire cytoplasm, whereas the adipohemocytes had an irregular shape with multiple lipid inclusions that occupied almost the entire cytoplasmic space. The total counts of the hemocyte population increased in the group that was infected with L. infantum. Among the different cell types, the numbers increased and the ultrastructural changes occurred in the granulocytes and the plasmatocytes in the infected group of ticks.
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Vol. 52 • No. 6