Main content area

Early stages of infection of three‐spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) with the cestode Schistocephalus solidus

Wohlleben, Anika Marie, Franke, Frederik, Hamley, Madeleine, Kurtz, Joachim, Scharsack, Jörn Peter
Journal of fish diseases 2018 v.41 no.11 pp. 1701-1708
Gasterosteus aculeatus, Schistocephalus, body cavities, fish, helminths, intermediate hosts, kidneys, leukocytes, lymphocyte proliferation, respiratory burst
Parasitic helminths have evolved strategies to evade their host's immune systems. Particularly, the early time of interactions between helminths and their hosts might be decisive for their infection success. We used the cestode Schistocephalus solidus, and its highly specific second intermediate host, the three‐spined stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) to investigate parasite infection and host cellular immune responses starting 1 day postexposure (dpe). We recovered live parasites from stickleback body cavities already 24 hr after exposure. Infection rates increased up to 50% and did not change from 4 dpe onwards. Thus, not all parasites had reached the body cavity at the early time points and clearance of the parasite at later time points did not occur. Stickleback head kidney leucocytes (HKLs) did not show distinct signs of activation and lymphocyte proliferation, granulocyte‐to‐lymphocyte ratios and respiratory burst activity of infected sticklebacks did not deviate from controls significantly. The immune system was activated only late, as indicated by an increase in the total count of HKL relative to stickleback weight (HKL per mg fish), which was significantly elevated in infected fish 32 dpe. S. solidus seems to evade leucocyte activity early during infection facilitating its establishment in the hosts’ body cavity.