Mirko Slovák

Mirko Slovák
Slovak Academy of Sciences | SAV

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56
Publications
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1,364
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Publications

Publications (56)
Article
Ticks, unique hematophagous arthropods and very effective vectors of a diverse spectrum of pathogens, possess an astounding array of salivary molecules that ensure their unnoticed and prolonged attachment to the host skin by counteracting host defences, including immune cells. Natural killer (NK) cells, belonging to the main cellular components of...
Article
Full-text available
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV; family Flaviviridae) is the most medically important tick-borne virus in Europe and Asia. Ixodes ricinus and I. persulcatus ticks are considered to be the main vector ticks of TBEV in nature due to their specific ecological associations with the vertebrate hosts. Nevertheless, recent TBEV prevalence studies in t...
Article
Ticks, very successful vectors and reservoirs of diverse viruses and other infectious agents, are able to counteract host defence mechanisms and wound healing processes to facilitate blood-feeding. Cutting the epidermis by the tick chelicerae and penetration of the hypostome into the dermis followed by feeding elicit a wound healing response, invol...
Article
Full-text available
The use of live animals in tick research is crucial for a variety of experimental purposes including the maintenance of hard tick colonies in the laboratory. In ticks, all developmental stages (except egg) are hematophagous, and acquiring a blood-meal when attached to their vertebrate hosts is essential for the successful completion of their life c...
Article
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The incidence of tick-borne diseases caused by Borrelia burgdorferi sensu lato, Anaplasma phagocytophilum and Rickettsia spp. has been rising in Europe in recent decades. Early pre-assessment of acarological hazard still represents a complex challenge. The aim of this study was to model Ixodes ricinus questing nymph density and its infection rate w...
Article
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Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV-68) is a natural pathogen that infects murid rodents which serve as hosts for Dermacentor reticulatus and Ixodes ricinus ticks. For the first time, MHV-68 was detected in immature I. ricinus ticks feeding on lizards trapped in Slovakia. Later on, MHV-68 infection was detected in D. reticulatus and Haemaphysalis conci...
Article
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Emerging and re-emerging diseases transmitted by blood feeding arthropods are significant global public health problems. Ticks transmit the greatest variety of pathogenic microorganisms of any blood feeding arthropod. Infectious agents transmitted by ticks are delivered to the vertebrate host together with saliva at the bite site. Tick salivary gla...
Article
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Wild-living rodents are important hosts for zoonotic pathogens. Bartonella infections are widespread in rodents; however, in Slovakia, knowledge on the prevalence of these bacteria in small mammals is limited. We investigated the prevalence and diversity of Bartonella species in the spleens of 640 rodents of six species (Apodemus flavicollis, Apode...
Article
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Herpesviruses are a large group of DNA viruses infecting mainly vertebrates. Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV68) is often used as a model in studies of the pathogenesis of clinically important human gammaherpesviruses such as Epstein-Barr virus and Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. This rodent virus appears to be geographically widespread; ho...
Article
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Background Natural foci of tick-borne spotted fever group (SFG) rickettsiae of public health concern have been found in Slovakia, but the role of rodents in their circulation is unclear. Ticks (Ixodes ricinus, Ixodes trianguliceps, Dermacentor marginatus, Dermacentor reticulatus, Haemaphysalis concinna and Haemaphysalis inermis) and tissues of rode...
Article
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Murine gammaherpesvirus 68 (MHV-68) is a natural pathogen of murid rodents, which serve as hosts to Haemaphysalis concinna ticks. The occurrence of MHV-68 was investigated in a total of 47 H. concinna adult ticks collected on the vegetation in Gabčíkovo, situated in south-western Slovakia (47º54´0´´N, 17º35´0´´E), from May 2013 to May 2014. DNA fr...
Article
Tick saliva contains hundreds or thousands of proteins that help blood feeding by impairing their hosts’ hemostasis, inflammation and immunity. Salivary gland transcriptomes allow the disclosure of this pharmacologically active potion that consists of several multi-gene families, many of which are tick-specific. We here report the “de novo” assembl...
Article
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By amplification and sequencing of 18S rRNA gene fragments, Hepatozoon spp. DNA was detected in 0.08% (4/5057) and 0.04% (1/2473) of questing Ixodes ricinus ticks from Slovakia and Czech Republic, respectively. Hepatozoon spp. DNA was also detected in spleen and/or lungs of 4.45% (27/606) of rodents from Slovakia. Prevalence of infection was signif...
Article
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Over 50 million humans live in areas of potential exposure to tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV). The disease exhibits an estimated 16,000 cases recorded annually over 30 European and Asian countries. Conventionally, TBEV transmission to Ixodes spp. ticks occurs whilst feeding on viraemic animals. However, an alternative mechanism of non-viraemic...
Article
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Ixodes ricinus is a vector of microbial pathogens of medical and veterinary importance in Europe. Recently, increasing abundance of ticks has been observed in urban and suburban areas. The aim of this study was to investigate the tick species composition and examine correlations between local environmental variables and the relative density of host...
Article
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Background: Babesiosis is an emerging and potentially zoonotic disease caused by tick-borne piroplasmids of the Babesia genus. New genetic variants of piroplasmids with unknown associations to vectors and hosts are recognized. Data on the occurrence of Babesia spp. in ticks and wildlife widen the knowledge on the geographical distribution and circu...
Article
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Background: Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis (CNM) is an emerging tick-borne pathogen causing severe disease in immunocompromised patients. In Europe, Ixodes ricinus is the primary vector and rodents act as reservoir hosts. New data on the prevalence of CNM in ticks and rodents contribute to the knowledge on the distribution of endemic areas and...
Article
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Background Ixodes ricinus is the principal vector of Anaplasma phagocytophilum, the ethiological agent of granulocytic anaplasmosis in Europe. Anaplasmosis is an emerging zoonotic disease with a natural enzootic cycle. The reservoir competence of rodents is unclear. Monitoring of A. phagocytophilum prevalence in I. ricinus and rodents in various ha...
Article
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MHV-68 (designed as Murid herpesvirus 4 (MuHV 4) strain 68) is a natural pathogen of murid rodents, which serve as hosts to Dermacentor reticulatus ticks. These ticks are known to transmit multiple pathogens, which can cause diseases in humans and animals. Recently, the detection of MHV-68 antibodies in the blood of animals living in the same bioto...
Article
Orcokinins are conserved neuropeptides within the Arthropoda but their cellular distribution and functions in ticks are unknown. We use an antibody against the highly conserved N-terminal (NFDEIDR) of mature orcokinin peptides to examine their distribution in six ixodid species: Amblyomma variegatum, Dermacentor reticulatus, Hyalomma anatolicum, Ix...
Article
Unlabelled: Ticks rely exclusively on vertebrate blood for their survival. During feeding ticks inject into their hosts a sophisticated salivary potion that overcomes host hemostasis and adverse inflammatory responses. These mediators may also enhance pathogen transmission. Knowledge of the tick salivary protein repertoire may lead to vaccine targ...
Conference Paper
Full-text available
Lyme borreliosis is the most prevalent tick-borne human infection in Europe. Recently, an increased incidence of Ixodes ricinus, the principal vector of the Borrelia burgdorferi s.l., has been observed in urban parks and gardens. The aim of this study was to investigate local variation in prevalence and diversity of genospecies of B. burgdorferi s....
Article
The saliva of blood-feeding arthropods modulates their vertebrate hosts' haemostatic, inflammatory, and immune responses to facilitate blood-feeding. In a previous study, we showed that salivary gland products from ixodid tick species also manipulate the wound healing response by targeting at least four different mammalian growth factors: transform...
Article
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Abstract Chimeric yellow fever 17D/DENV-1-4 viruses (CYD-1-4) have been developed as a tetravalent dengue vaccine candidate which is currently being evaluated in efficacy trials in Asia and America. While YF 17D and DENV are mosquito-borne flaviviruses, it has been shown that CYD-1-4 do not replicate after oral infection in mosquitoes and are not t...
Article
For successful blood-feeding, ticks must confront the host immune system comprising many cells and signaling molecules, mainly cytokines and growth factors. These factors bind to specific receptors on the cell membranes, thereby initiating a signaling cascade that leads to distinct cellular activities. Ticks are able to manipulate host immune respo...
Article
Ticks exploit many evasion mechanisms to circumvent the immune control of their hosts including subversion of the communication language between cells of the immune system provided by chemokines and other cytokines. One subversive molecule secreted in the saliva of Rhipicephalus sanguineus is Evasin-3, a structurally unique 7 kDa protein that selec...
Article
Full-text available
Tick-borne encephalitis virus (TBEV) causes human epidemics across Eurasia. Clinical manifestations range from inapparent infections and fevers to fatal encephalitis but the factors that determine disease severity are currently undefined. TBEV is characteristically a hemagglutinating (HA) virus; the ability to agglutinate erythrocytes tentatively r...
Data
Cartoon illustrating the molecular mechanisms of emergence of new strains of TBEV with possible pathogenic characteristics for humans. (10.14 MB TIF)
Article
Ixodid ticks require comparatively large bloodmeals for their development and survival. Blood-feeding elicits signaling events in the host leading to wound healing responses (hemostasis, inflammation, and tissue repair) and immunity. Bioactive molecules present in tick saliva sabotage these host responses at several levels. One of them is neutraliz...
Article
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Neuropeptides are crucial regulators of development and various physiological functions but little is known about their identity, expression and function in vectors of pathogens causing serious diseases, such as ticks. Therefore, we have used antibodies against multiple insect and crustacean neuropeptides to reveal the presence of these bioactive m...
Article
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Ticks have developed their own immunomodulatory mechanisms to inhibit the host inflammatory response. One of them involves the ability to subvert the cytokine network at the site of tick feeding by secreting cytokine binding molecules. Most studies have focused on the immunomodulatory prowess of adult female ticks. Here we describe anti-cytokine ac...
Article
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Ticks secrete a cocktail of immunomodulatory molecules in their saliva during blood-feeding, including chemokine-binding factors that help control the activity of host immunocompetent cells. Here we demonstrate differential dynamics of anti IL-8 (CXCL8), MCP-1 (CCL2), MIP-1 (CCL3), RANTES (CCL5) and eotaxin (CCL11) activities in salivary gland extr...
Article
Ticks belonging to arthropoda are blood feeding, geographically widespread ectoparasites of mammals, reptiles and birds. Their saliva contains active substances that protect them from host immune attack and allow for transmission of various pathogens during the feeding process. Characterization of tick saliva components can therefore contribute to...
Article
Full-text available
Dermacentor reticulatus ticks are recognized as the most important vectors of Babesia canis, the aetiological agent of canine babesiosis occurring throughout Europe. Vector competence of D. reticulatus for B. canis is well described and experimentally determined; however, by using molecular analysis it was proven so by one recent study in Russia. H...
Article
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Ticks are obligatory blood-feeding arthropods that secrete various immunomodulatory molecules to antagonize host inflammatory and immune responses. Cytokines play an important role in regulating these responses. We investigated the extent to which ticks interact with the sophisticated cytokine network by comparing the effect of salivary gland extra...
Article
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The effects of host, size of tick males and tick density per host on feeding of Dermacentor reticulatus females were investigated in the laboratory. Comparison of feeding performances on laboratory animals suggests that mice and rabbits are more suitable hosts than guinea pigs. The size of male ticks did not influence the feeding rate of females. D...
Article
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Interleukin-8 plays a critical role in inflammatory processes. Hence generation of molecules with anti-IL-8 activity is likely to be important for successful feeding and for survival of the ticks. Anti-IL-8 activity was studied in saliva of three ixodid tick species--Dermacentor reticulatus (Fabricius, 1794), Rhipicephalus appendiculatus Neumann, 1...
Article
Twenty thousand adult Dermacentor reticulatus ticks were produced in three months by means of a unique breeding technique utilizing a modified plastic syringe. The technique is time and labour efficient compared to previous methods and the loss of immature ticks is minimized. The mean body weight and the moulting capability of nymphs to adults were...
Article
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To overcome the inflammatory response in its host, the cattle-feeding, brown ear tick secretes histamine-binding proteins into the feeding site. These proteins are beta-barrels with two internal binding sites: a high-affinity (H) site for histamine and a site (L) for which the natural ligand is unknown. Here we report a related protein (SHBP), secr...
Article
A salivary gland extract (SGE) prepared from 5-days-fed Dermacentor reticulatus female ticks was fractionated by fast protein liquid chromatography (FPLC). The effect of three FPLC fractions selected on the basis of anti-interleukin 8 (anti-IL-8) activity on vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) nucleocapsid (N) protein formation in mouse L-cells was de...
Article
Tick saliva plays a vital role in blood-feeding, including manipulation of the host response to tick infestation. Furthermore, a diverse number of tick-borne pathogens are transmitted to vertebrate hosts via tick saliva, some of which exploit the immunomodulatory activities of their vector's saliva. We report that salivary gland extracts (SGE) deri...
Article
Interleukin-8 (IL-8) is one of many mammalian chemokines (chemotactic cytokines) that direct mammalian inflammatory and immune cells to sites of injury and infection. Chemokines are produced locally and act on leucocytes through selective receptors. The principal role of IL-8 is to control the movement and activity of neutrophils. To date, several...
Article
The saliva of haematophagous arthropods (e.g. mosquitoes, sandflies and ticks) contains potent immunomodulatory activities that counter their hosts' haemostatic, inflammatory and immune responses to facilitate blood-feeding. Such effects are exploited by arthropod-transmitted pathogens to promote their transmission. We investigated the ability of t...
Article
Full-text available
Salivary gland extracts (SGE) from unfed and 5 days fed adult female Ixodes ricinus (Linnaeus, 1758); Haemaphysalis inermis (Birula, 1895) and Dermacentor reticulatus (Fabricius, 1794) ticks were prepared. The protein content after feeding increased by 10.6, 8.7 and 6.8 times, respectively. Extracts were equilibrated to the same protein content and...
Article
In a previous study (Hajnicka, V. et al., Parasitology 116, 533-538, 1998), the infectivity titer of vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV) was shown to increase up to 10,000-fold when mouse L cells were treated with tick salivary gland extract (SGE) prior to infection. To examine this effect at the level of viral protein production, radiolabeled VSV-inf...
Article
Saliva of blood-feeding arthropods promotes infection by the vector-borne pathogens they transmit. To investigate this phenomenon in vitro, cultures of mouse L cells were treated with a salivary gland extract (SGE) prepared from feeding ticks and then infected with vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV). At low input doses of VSV, viral yield was increas...
Article
Full-text available
The development and fecundity of Ceratitis capitata Wiedemann (Diptera: Tephritidae) and the host-parasitoid relationship of C. capitata, and its pupal endoparasitoid. Coptera occidentalis (Muesebeck) (Hymenoptera: Proctotrupoidea: Diapriidae) were investigated under conditions in which the host was stressed by heavy metal ingestion. C. capitata la...
Article
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Phagocytic response to injected iron saccharate and yeast cells (heat-killed Saccharomyces cerevisiae or viable Candida tropicalis) and haemolymph phenoloxidase (PO) activity were in Mamestra brassicae larvae fed on diets contaminated by copper, lead, cadmium or fluorine ions. In copper-stressed larvae, increased and reduced percentage of plasmatoc...

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