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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 41:135-139 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/dao041135

Associations between epidermal thionin-positive cells and skin parasitic infections in brown trout Salmo trutta

Jens Sigh, Kurt Buchmann*

Department of Veterinary Microbiology, Section of Fish Diseases, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, 4 Stigbøjlen, 1870 Frederiksberg C, Denmark
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: The dynamics of the densities of epidermal thionin-positive cells (putative mast cells) in the skin of brown trout fry were investigated during experimental infections with the skin parasites Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ciliophora) and Gyrodactylus derjavini (Monogenea). It was shown that the metachromatic thionin-stained cells were extremely sensitive to parasite exposure, as the density of cells in the skin of trout decreased markedly after exposure to the pathogens. As early as 7 d post infection the cell counts were significantly reduced and almost totally depleted following 9 d infection, which suggests that degranulation of the cells occurs following parasite exposure. No recruitment of new cells was seen during the study period. Some reduction in uninfected control groups indicates that the putative mast cells are sensitive to stress as well. A notable variation in densities of thionin-stained cells between different fins was found and the corneal surface was devoid of these cells. The possible implications of these cells in host-parasite interactions are suggested and discussed.

KEY WORDS: Mast cells · Parasites · Trout · Salmo trutta · Host response · Ichthyophthirius multifiliis · Gyrodactylus derjavini

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