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Environ Pollut. 2009 Mar;157(3):955-8. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2008.10.017. Epub 2008 Nov 25.

The veterinary drug ivermectin influences immune response in the yellow dung fly (Scathophaga stercoraria).

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Division of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, School of Biosciences, University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK.


Phenoloxidase (PO) is a key enzyme involved in the immune response of insects. We show that egg-to-adult exposure to residues of 0.001, but not 0.0005 mgkg(-1) ivermectin elevated PO activity in yellow dung flies (Scathophaga stercoraria) developing in cattle dung. Fly fat content was unaffected by the treatments. Therefore, the response of PO was a direct effect of ivermectin and not an indirect one caused by an alteration in body 'condition'. This supports the non-intuitive conclusion that flies surviving exposure to faecal residues may have enhanced immune function. To our knowledge, this is the first study to assess the effects on PO activity of insecticidal residues in livestock dung. The non-target effects of such residues are of wide interest, given the global use of veterinary products.

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