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Fish Shellfish Immunol. 2008 Oct;25(4):358-72. doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2008.03.018. Epub 2008 Apr 4.

Living off a fish: a trade-off between parasites and the immune system.

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Instituto de Acuicultura de Torre de la Sal, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas, Torre de la Sal s/n, 12595 Ribera de Cabanes, Castellón, Spain.


Research in fish immune system and parasite invasion mechanisms has advanced the knowledge of the mechanisms whereby parasites evade or cope with fish immune response. The main mechanisms of immune evasion employed by fish parasites are reviewed and considered under ten headings. 1) Parasite isolation: parasites develop in immuno-privileged host tissues, such as brain, gonads, or eyes, where host barriers prevent or limit the immune response. 2) Host isolation: the host cellular immune response isolates and encapsulates the parasites in a dormant stage without killing them. 3) Intracellular disguise: typical of intracellular microsporidians, coccidians and some myxosporeans. 4) Parasite migration, behavioural and environmental strategies: parasites migrate to host sites the immune response has not yet reached or where it is not strong enough to kill them, or they accommodate their life cycles to the season or the age in which the host immune system is down-regulated. 5) Antigen-based strategies such as mimicry or masking, variation and sharing of parasite antigens. 6) Anti-immune mechanisms: these allow parasites to resist innate humoral factors, to neutralize host antibodies or to scavenge reactive oxygen species within macrophages. 7) Immunodepression: parasites either suppress the fish immune systems by reducing the proliferative capacity of lymphocytes or the phagocytic activity of macrophages, or they induce apoptosis of host leucocytes. 8) Immunomodulation: parasites secrete or excrete substances which modulate the secretion of host immune factors, such as cytokines, to their own benefit. 9) Fast development: parasites proliferate faster than the ability of the host to mount a defence response. 10) Exploitation of the host immune reaction. Knowledge of the evasion strategies adopted by parasites will help us to understand host-parasite interactions and may therefore help in the discovery of novel immunotherapeutic agents or targeted vaccines, and permit the selection of host-resistant strains.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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