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Avermectin treatment for Lepeophtheirus salmonis: Impacts on host (Salmo salar) and parasite immunophysiology

Whyte, S.K., Poley, J.D., Mueller, A., Van Iderstine, C., Fitzpatrick, K.E., Purcell, S.L., Koop, B.F., Johnson, S.C., Wadsworth, S., Fast, M.D.
Aquaculture 2019 v.501 pp. 488-501
Lepeophtheirus salmonis, Salmo salar, antigen presentation, drugs, feeding behavior, gender, gene expression, gene expression regulation, industry, ivermectin, lice, neurotoxicity, salmon, smolts, stress response, transcriptome, transcriptomics, viruses, North America
The avermectins, emamectin benzoate (EMB) and ivermectin (IVM) have been commonly used in North America over the last two decades to control the salmon louse, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, infections in farmed Atlantic salmon. Emamectin benzoate, trade name SLICE ™, was used heavily in the Eastern Canadian industry between the years 2000–2008, due to its long lasting protection and efficacy against all parasitic life stages. However, over reliance on this drug soon resulted in reduced sensitivity in many L. salmonis populations, resulting more recently in uses of higher treatment dosages and switching to the use of IVM. For these reasons, we investigated the effects of different dosages of EMB and multiple IVM treatments on baseline immunophysiological indicators, anti-viral responses and protection against subsequent salmon lice exposure in salmon smolts. Different doses of EMB or repeated treatment with IVM did not affect feeding behaviour in salmon, however by the end of the second IVM treatment, some neurotoxicity was observed. A single (1×) EMB dose (50 μg/Kg) administered for 7 consecutive days had no significant effect on L. salmonis abundance and development, whereas triple the dosage (150 μg/Kg) significantly reduced lice development, thereby eliminating subsequent stress responses in salmon associated with lice development to pre-adult stages. Emamectin benzoate and IVM treatment did not significantly impact expression of resting antigen presentation molecules in salmon (MH class I or II), however they did inhibit short-term (6 h) induced responses to the ISA virus. The impact of gender, as previously shown, had the greatest effect on louse transcriptomic regulation, but avermectin treatment also caused perturbations in gene expression. Transcriptome differences between lice on control and 1× EMB treated fish were larger than those observed for IVM or 3× EMB. Nearly half of the transcripts differentially expressed by IVM were also affected by one of the EMB treatments. Transcriptomic results from the louse suggest a high degree of similarity and concordance within and across studies in avermectin treatment, with gender of louse and dosage of drug significantly impacting the outcomes.