During natural infection with the agent of
Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, spirochetes are delivered with vector saliva, which contains anti-inflammatory and antihemostatic activities. We show here that the saliva of ixodid ticks reduces polymorphonuclear leukocyte (PMN) adhesion via downregulation of beta2-integrins and decreases the efficiency of PMN in the uptake and killing of spirochetes. Inhibition of integrin adhesion and signaling reduces anti-inflammatory functions of PMN. These effects may favor the initial survival of spirochetes in vivo.