The antitumor properties of ticks salivary gland extracts or recombinant proteins have been reported recently, but little is known about the antitumor properties of the secreted components of saliva. The goal of this study was to investigate the in vitro effect of the saliva of the hard tick Amblyomma sculptum on neuroblastoma cell lines. SK-N-SK, SH-SY5Y, Be(2)-M17, IMR-32, and CHLA-20 cells were susceptible to saliva, with 80% reduction in their viability compared to untreated controls, as demonstrated by the methylene blue assay. Further investigation using CHLA-20 revealed apoptosis, with approximately 30% of annexin-V positive cells, and G0/G1-phase accumulation (>60%) after treatment with saliva. Mitochondrial membrane potential (Δψm) was slightly, but significantly (p < 0.05), reduced and the actin cytoskeleton was disarranged, as indicated by fluorescent microscopy. The viability of human fibroblast (HFF-1 cells) used as a non-tumoral control decreased by approximately 40%. However, no alterations in cell cycle progression, morphology, and Δψm were observed in these cells. The present work provides new perspectives for the characterization of the molecules present in saliva and their antitumor properties.
Tick saliva; animal toxin; tumor cell death; pediatric cancer