Ehrlichioses: An important one health opportunity

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Ehrlichioses are caused by obligately intracellular bacteria that are maintained subclinically in a persistently infected vertebrate host and a tick vector. The most severe life-threatening illnesses, such as human monocytotropic ehrlichiosis and heartwater, occur in incidental hosts. Ehrlichia have a developmental cycle involving an infectious, nonreplicating, dense core cell and a noninfectious, replicating reticulate cell. Ehrlichiae secrete proteins that bind to host cytoplasmic proteins and nuclear chromatin, manipulating the host cell environment to their advantage. Severe disease in immunocompetent hosts is mediated in large part by immunologic and inflammatory mechanisms, including overproduction of tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α), which is produced by CD8 T lymphocytes, and interleukin-10 (IL-10). Immune components that contribute to control of ehrlichial infection include CD4 and CD8 T cells, natural killer (NK) cells, interferon- γ (IFN-γ), IL-12, and antibodies. Some immune components, such as TNF-α, perforin, and CD8 T cells, play both pathogenic and protective roles. In contrast with the immunocompetent host, which may die with few detectable organisms owing to the overly strong immune response, immunodeficient hosts die with overwhelming infection and large quantities of organisms in the tissues. Vaccine development is challenging because of antigenic diversity of E. ruminantium, the necessity of avoiding an immunopathologic response, and incomplete knowledge of the protective antigens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalVeterinary Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • Canine ehrlichiosis
  • Ehrlichia canis
  • Ehrlichia chaffeensis
  • Ehrlichia ewingii
  • Ehrlichia muris
  • Ehrlichia ruminantium
  • Heartwater
  • Human ehrlichiosis
  • Immunopathology
  • Mouse models

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Veterinary


Dive into the research topics of 'Ehrlichioses: An important one health opportunity'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this