Changes in Holothurian Coelomocyte Populations Following Immune Stimulation with Different Molecular Patterns
García-Arrarás, José E.
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Echinoderms possess a variety of cells populating the coelomic fluid; these cells are responsible for mounting defense against foreign agents. In the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima, four different coelomocyte types were readily distinguished using morphological, histochemical and physiological (phagocytic activity) parameters: lymphocytes, phagocytes, spherulocytes and "giant" cells (listed in order of abundance). Monoclonal antibodies generated against sea cucumber tissues and one polyclonal against sea urchin mayor yolk protein (MYP) were also used to characterize these cell populations. The effects of several pathogen-associated molecular patterns (PAMPs): Lipopolysaccharides from Escherichia. coli (LPS), heat-killed Staphylococcus aureus (SA) and a synthetic dsRNA were studied on coelomocyte cell populations. PAMPs increased the phagocytic activity of the holothurian coelomocytes, and were able to induce selective immune responses in several of these populations, demonstrating the ability of the sea cucumber to respond to a different variety of immune challenges. Overall, these results show the variety of cells that populate the coelomic fluid of the holothurian and demonstrate their involvement in immune reactions. These animals represent an untapped resource for new findings into the evolution and development of the immune response not only in invertebrates but also in phylogenetically shared reactions with vertebrates.