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Diseases of Aquatic Organisms

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DAO 42:61-69 (2000)  -  doi:10.3354/dao042061

Humoral immune response of European eel Anguilla anguilla experimentally infected with Anguillicola crassus

K. Knopf1,*, K. Naser2, M. H. T. van der Heijden3, H. Taraschewski1

1Zoologisches Institut - Ökologie, Universität Karlsruhe (TH), Kaiserstr. 12, 76128 Karlsruhe, Germany
2Landesgesundheitsamt Baden-Württemberg, Wiederholdstr. 15, 70174 Stuttgart, Germany
3Wageningen University, Department of Animal Sciences, Fish Culture and Fisheries Group, PO Box 338, 6700 AH Wageningen, The Netherlands
*Present address: Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, Department of Inland Fisheries, Müggelseedamm 3120, PF 850119, 12561 Berlin, Germany. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: A humoral immune response of the European eel Anguilla anguilla elicited by an experimental infection was demonstrated for the first time against the swimbladder nematode Anguillicola crassus. Eels were experimentally infected once or repeatedly and the antibody response was observed over a period of 325 d. Specific antibodies against A. crassus in the peripheral blood of the eels were measured using an ELISA and the immunoblot technique. Anti-A. crassus antibodies were first observed 8 wk post infection, and appeared to be independent of both the number of infective third stage larvae (L3) administered and the frequency of administration. However, individual eels showed great differences in the course of the antibody response. The late appearance of antibodies in the peripheral blood supports the hypothesis that not the invading L3 but rather the adult parasites elicit the production of specific antibodies. A stage-specific antibody response against the L3 was not observed. Main antigens are located in the body wall, especially in the gelatinous outer cuticle, of adult A. crassus.

KEY WORDS: Anguilla anguilla · Anguillicola crassus · Humoral immune response · Experimental infection

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