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J Comp Physiol B. 2013 Apr;183(3):313-22. doi: 10.1007/s00360-012-0710-7. Epub 2012 Sep 27.

Dermal exposure to immunostimulants induces changes in activity and proliferation of coelomocytes of Eisenia andrei.

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  • 1Department of Evolutionary Immunology, Institute of Zoology, Jagiellonian University, Gronostajowa 9, 30-387 Krakow, Poland.


Due to the specific habitat conditions in which they live, earthworms are constantly exposed to pathogens. Consequently, they have evolved various immuno-defense mechanisms, including cellular (coelomocytes) and humoral responses, which may help to eliminate deleterious micro-organisms but also repair and/or protect host cells and tissues. Similar to mammalian phagocytes, coelomocytes can kill ingested pathogens with reactive oxygen species (ROS) and nitric oxide. In the present work, we studied the effects of the dermal exposure of Eisenia andrei earthworms to different immuno-stimulants: phorbol-12-myristate-13-acetate (PMA), lipopolysaccharide (LPS) or concanavalin A (ConA). After 3 days of treatment with all immuno-stimulants, decreased numbers and changed composition of the coelomocytes were observed. The immuno-stimulants also induced numerous changes in bactericidal activity, including ROS production. Furthermore, all stimulants increased cell proliferation while only LPS-treatment significantly elevated apoptosis of coelomocytes. These results demonstrate that in vivo treatment of earthworms with immuno-stimulants induces various changes in their coelomocyte response.

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