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J Exp Biol. 2008 Feb;211(Pt 4):531-8. doi: 10.1242/jeb.013136.

Competition between immune function and lipid transport for the protein apolipophorin III leads to stress-induced immunosuppression in crickets.

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  • 1Department of Psychology, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS B3H 4J1, Canada.


Intense physical activity results in transient immunosuppression in a wide range of animals. We tested the hypothesis that competition between immune function and lipid transport for the protein apolipophorin III (apoLpIII) can cause transient immunosuppression in crickets. Both flying, an energetically demanding behavior, and an immune challenge reduced the amount of monomeric (free) apoLpIII in the hemolymph of crickets. Because both immune function and flying depleted free apoLpIII, these two phenomena could be in competition for this protein. We showed that immune function was sensitive to the amount of free apoLpIII in the hemolymph. Reducing the amount of free apoLpIII in the hemolymph using adipokinetic hormone produced immunosuppression. Increasing apoLpIII levels after flight by pre-loading animals with trehalose reduced immunosuppression. Increasing post-flight apoLpIII levels by injecting purified apoLpIII also reduced flight-induced immunosuppression. These results show that competition between lipid transport and immune function for the same protein can produce transient immunosuppression after flight-or-fight behavior. Intertwined physiological systems can produce unexpected trade-offs.

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