Time after seawater transfer influences immune cell abundance and responses to SAV3 infection in Atlantic salmon
Pancreas disease (PD) caused by salmonid alphavirus (SAV) severely affects salmonid aquaculture during the seawater phase. To characterize immune cells in target tissues for SAV infection, heart, pancreas and pyloric caeca were analysed from two groups of fish adapted to seawater for 2 and 9 weeks. The sections were scored for the relative abundance of cells expressing MHC class II, IgM, CD3, CD8 or neutrophil/granulocyte markers using immuno‐histochemical techniques. In general, necrosis of tissue was more severe in fish infected at 2 weeks post‐seawater transfer (wpt) compared with those infected at 9 wpt. At 9 wpt, there were higher numbers of MHC II+ cells in heart, pancreas and pyloric caeca, IgM+ cells in heart and pancreas, and CD3+ cells in pancreas compared to those infected at 2 wpt. The majority of the immune cells infiltrating PD‐affected tissues were MHC II+ and CD3+ cells suggesting that antigen‐presenting cells and T lymphocytes are the main types of immune cells responding to SAV infection. All the investigated cell types were also observed in pyloric caeca of infected fish, suggesting that this tissue may play a role in the immune response to SAV.
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