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Int J Parasitol. 2002 Mar;32(3):309-19.

Interactions between monogenean parasites and their fish hosts.

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  • 1Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Section of Fish Diseases, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural, 4 Stigbøjlen, DK-1870 C, Frederiksberg, Denmark.


Parasite factors associated with recognition and selection of the host and the mechanisms in the host responsible for acceptance or rejection of the invading organism were evaluated. Sensory structures in parasites are able to detect differences between different fish species and this ability to discern between fishes may be based on both chemical and mechanical stimuli on the host surface. Complex glycoproteins, proteins, carbohydrates and simple molecules attract parasites or modify their behaviour. Furthermore, attachment of the monogenean parasite to a host is dependent on both mechanical structures and chemical factors in the parasite. These systems comprise anterior pads, posterior haptors, gland secretions, and muscular elements. The parasite needs access to appropriate nutrients which can be absorbed and used for reproduction and in this context signals from the host are needed for an optimal physiological response of the parasite. The innate and adaptive immune systems of the host are important elements in this question. Investigations have indicated that innate host factors (complement, lectins, acute phase reactants, macrophages) can bind to monogeneans and elicit severe damage to the parasites. The targets for these hostile products are not only the monogenean tegument, but may involve the gastrodermis and glands. However, the parasite's ability to avoid and even exploit the wide array of immunological elements of the host may be an important player in the dynamic interactions between host and monogenean determining host specificity. Even fish hosts susceptible to a certain parasite show an ability to mount a protective response at post-infection periods. Elevation of the host's production of adaptive and non-adaptive factors following monogenean infections of a certain duration may explain the acquired response.

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