Characterization of three pro-inflammatory cytokines, TNFα1, TNFα2 and IL-1β, in cage-reared Atlantic bluefin tuna Thunnus thynnus

Ivana Lepen Pleić, Christopher J Secombes, Steve Bird, Ivona Mladineo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Citations (Scopus)


Atlantic bluefin tuna (BFT) (Thunnus thynnus) is of great economic significance for world aquaculture and therefore it is necessary to ensure optimal and sustainable conditions for the farming of this species. Intensive culture of fish may be limited by infectious diseases that can impact on growth performance and cause heavy losses. However, to date there are no reports of cloning and expression analysis of any major immune genes of Atlantic BFT although some immune genes are known in other BFT species. Therefore the aim of this study was to characterize the first cytokine molecules in Atlantic BFT, through: 1) Isolation of full-length cDNA and gene sequences of TNFα1, TNFα2 and IL-1β, 2) comparison of these molecules to known sequences in other vertebrates, especially teleost fish, by multiple sequence alignment, phylogenetic tree analysis and homology modeling; 3) Quantification of in vivo expression of these cytokines in selected tissues in reared BFT over the duration of the farming process. The results indicated that these three cytokines could have value for monitoring Atlantic BFT health status. Curiously, the liver seemed to be an important site of cytokine production during poor health conditions in this species, perhaps reflecting its role as an important organ involved in fish defenses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)98-112
Number of pages15
JournalFish & Shellfish Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

The authors gratefully acknowledge Marimar Costa Portela, Rino Stanić and Tanja Šegvić Bubić for their advice and assistance in different aspects of this study. This work was supported by the Croatian Ministry of Science, Education and Technology (001-0000000-3633) and Unity Through Knowledge Fund (23/08). Ivana Lepen Pleić was funded by the Croatian Science Foundation through its Fellowships for Doctoral Students (I-3922-2010).


  • amino acid sequence
  • animals
  • base sequence
  • cloning, molecular
  • interleukin-1beta
  • molecular sequence data
  • phylogeny
  • RNA
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • sequence alignment
  • sequence analysis, DNA
  • tumor necrosis factor-alpha
  • tuna


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