Effects of fetal bovine serum (FBS) and complement on phagocytic activity in Ornithodoros moubata (Murray 1877) hemocytes and protease activity in the hemocytes were examined. At least three morphologically different cell types, granulocytes, plasmatocytes, and prohemocytes, were detected in hemolymph of O. moubata, and granulocytes and plasmatocytes showed phagocytic activity. FBS altered phagocytic activity of granulocytes, and complement affected phagocytic activity of plasmatocytes. Ticks were inoculated with fluorescent polystyrene beads in combination with FBS or complement. The average number of beads in granulocytes was significantly higher in the FBS injected group than the control (P < 0.01). The percentage of bead-ingesting plasmatocytes in complement inoculated ticks was significantly lower than that in heat-inactivated complement inoculated and control ticks (P < 0.05). Proteases of tick hemocytes localized in small granules in the cytoplasm not only in phagocytic hemocytes but also in prohemocytes. Results suggested modulation of tick hemocyte function through serum components, and digestion of phagocytosed foreign bodies in the hemocytes.
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Vol. 38 • No. 4