Infection and replication of Bartonella species within a tick cell line

Sarah A. Billeter, Pedro Paulo V.P. Diniz, James M. Battisti, Ulrike G. Munderloh, Edward B. Breitschwerdt, Michael G. Levy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Bartonella species are fastidious, gram negative bacteria, some of which are transmitted by arthropod vectors, including fleas, sandflies, and lice. There is very little information regarding the interaction and/or transmission capabilities of Bartonella species by ticks. In the present study, we demonstrate successful infection of the Amblyomma americanum cell line, AAE12, by seven Bartonella isolates and three Candidatus Bartonella species by electron or light microscopy. With the exception of Bartonella bovis, infection with all other examined Bartonella species induced cytopathic effects characterized by heavy cellular vacuolization and eventually cell lysis. Furthermore, using quantitative real time PCR (qPCR), we demonstrated significant amplification of two B. henselae genotype I isolates in the A. americanum cell line over a 5 days period. Ultimately, tick-cell derived Bartonella antigens may prove useful for the development of more sensitive diagnostic reagents and may assist in the development of an effective vaccine to prevent the further spread of disease caused by these organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)193-208
Number of pages16
JournalExperimental and Applied Acarology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This study was supported in part by a grant from the North Carolina State University Center for Comparative Medicine and Translational Research.


  • Bacteria
  • Bartonella species
  • Cell culture
  • Replication
  • Tick cell lines


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