Research Summary: Enhanced Cellular Immunity in Shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) after ‘Vaccination’


It has long been viewed that invertebrates rely exclusively upon a wide variety of innate mechanisms for protection from disease and parasite invasion and lack any specific acquired immune mechanisms comparable to those of vertebrates. Recent findings, however, suggest certain invertebrates may be able to mount some form of specific immunity, termed ‘specific immune priming’, although the mechanism of this is not fully understood (see Textbox S1). In our initial experiments, either formalin-inactivated Vibrio harveyi or sterile saline were injected into the main body cavity (haemocoel) of juvenile shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). Haemocytes (blood cells) from V. harveyi-injected shrimp were collected 7 days later and incubated with a 1∶1 mix of V. harveyi and an unrelated Gram positive bacterium, Bacillus subtilis. Haemocytes from ‘vaccinated’ shrimp showed elevated levels of phagocytosis of V. harveyi, but not B. subtilis, compared with those from saline-injected (non-immunised) animals. The increased phagocytic activity was characterised by a significant increase in the percentage of phagocytic cells. When shrimp were injected with B. subtilis rather than vibrio, there was no significant increase in the phagocytic activity of haemocytes from these animals in comparison to the non-immunised (saline injected) controls. Whole haemolymph (blood) from either ‘immunised’ or non-immunised’ shrimp was shown to display innate humoral antibacterial activity against V. harveyi that was absent against B. subtilis. However, there was no difference in the potency of antibacterial activity between V. harveyi-injected shrimp and control (saline injected) animals showing that ‘vaccination’ has no effect on this component of the shrimp’s immune system. These results imply that the cellular immune system of shrimp, particularly phagocytosis, is capable of a degree of specificity and shows the phenomenon of ‘immune priming’ reported by other workers. However, in agreement with other studies, this phenomenon is not universal to all potential pathogens.


Publisher: Public Library of Science

Date Published: 16-June-2011

Author(s): Pope E., Powell A., Roberts E., Shields R., Wardle R., Rowley A.


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