Protective efficacy of the peptide Subolesin antigen against the cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus under natural infestation
The cattle tick Rhipicephalus microplus affect animal health, welfare, and cattle production in tropical and subtropical zones of the world. Anti-tick vaccines have been an effective alternative for cattle tick control instead of traditional chemical products. To date, Subolesin antigen has shown efficacy for the control of tick infestation in cattle, and previous studies showed that one peptide derived from this protein has demonstrated to elicit a strong and specific humoral immune response. Based on these findings, herein we characterized the efficacy of the peptide Subolesin for the control of cattle tick, R. microplus infestation under field conditions. Twenty-four female calves were assigned to four experimental groups and immunized with three subcutaneous doses of the peptide Subolesin, Bm86, both antigens (dual vaccine) and adjuvant/saline alone, respectively. Serum antibody levels (IgG) were assessed by ELISA and confirmed by Western blot; also, reproductive performance of naturally infested R. microplus was determined. The results showed that immunizations with the experimental antigens reduced tick infestations with vaccine's efficacy of 67 % (peptide Subolesin), 56 % (Bm86), and 49 % (dual vaccine) based on adult tick numbers, oviposition, and egg fertility between vaccinated and control animals. Peptide Subolesin-immunized calves developed a strong humoral immune response expressed by high anti-pSubolesin IgG levels, and the Western blot analysis confirmed that it is immunogenic. Cattle receiving Bm86 and dual vaccine showed less protection, although Bm86 was within the range reported previously. The negative correlation between antibody levels and reduction of naturally infested R. microplus strongly suggested that the effect of the vaccine was the result of the antibody response in immunized cattle. In conclusion, it was demonstrated that the peptide Subolesin induced a specific immune response in cattle under field conditions, resulting in reduced R. microplus populations in subsequent generations. Finally, integrated tick control must consider anti-tick vaccines as a cost-effective, sustainable, and successful tool for controlling cattle tick infestations.