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Blood. 2010 Nov 11;116(19):3944-54. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-03-267419. Epub 2010 Aug 16.

Eosinophils in the zebrafish: prospective isolation, characterization, and eosinophilia induction by helminth determinants.

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Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, University of California San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093-0380, USA.


Eosinophils are granulocytic leukocytes implicated in numerous aspects of immunity and disease. The precise functions of eosinophils, however, remain enigmatic. Alternative models to study eosinophil biology may thus yield novel insights into their function. Eosinophilic cells have been observed in zebrafish but have not been thoroughly characterized. We used a gata2:eGFP transgenic animal to enable prospective isolation and characterization of zebrafish eosinophils, and demonstrate that all gata2(hi) cells in adult hematopoietic tissues are eosinophils. Although eosinophils are rare in most organs, they are readily isolated from whole kidney marrow and abundant within the peritoneal cavity. Molecular analyses demonstrate that zebrafish eosinophils express genes important for the activities of mammalian eosinophils. In addition, gata2(hi) cells degranulate in response to helminth extract. Chronic exposure to helminth- related allergens resulted in profound eosinophilia, demonstrating that eosinophil responses to allergens have been conserved over evolution. Importantly, infection of adult zebrafish with Pseudocapillaria tomentosa, a natural nematode pathogen of teleosts, caused marked increases in eosinophil number within the intestine. Together, these observations support a conserved role for eosinophils in the response to helminth antigens or infection and provide a new model to better understand how parasitic worms activate, co-opt, or evade the vertebrate immune response.

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