Dissecting the immune pathways stimulated following injection vaccination of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) against enteric redmouth disease (ERM)

Eakapol Wangkahart, Christopher J Secombes, Tiehui Wang* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Citations (Scopus)
17 Downloads (Pure)


Enteric redmouth disease (ERM or yersiniosis) is one of the most important diseases of salmonids and leads to significant economic losses. It is caused by the Gram-negative bacterium Yersinia ruckeri but can be controlled by bacterin vaccination. The first commercial ERM vaccine was licenced in 1976 and is one of the most significant and successful health practices within the aquaculture industry. Although ERM vaccination provides complete protection, knowledge of the host immune response to the vaccine and the molecular mechanisms that underpin the protection elicited is limited. In this report, we analysed the expression in spleen and gills of a large set of genes encoding for cytokines, acute phase proteins (APPs) and antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) in response to ERM vaccination in rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss. Many immune genes in teleost fish are known to have multiple paralogues that can show differential responses to ERM vaccination, highlighting the necessity to determine whether all of the genes present react in a similar manner. ERM vaccination immediately activated a balanced inflammatory response with correlated expression of both pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines (eg IL-1β1-2, TNF-α1-3, IL-6, IL-8 and IL-10A etc.) in the spleen. The increase of pro-inflammatory cytokines may explain the systemic upregulation of APPs (eg serum amyloid A protein and serum amyloid protein P) and AMPs (eg cathelicidins and hepcidin) seen in both spleen and gills. We also observed an upregulation of all the α-chains but only one β-chain (p40B2) of the IL-12 family cytokines, that suggests specific IL-12 and IL-23 isoforms with distinct functions might be produced in the spleen of vaccinated fish. Notably the expression of Th1 cytokines (IFN-γ1-2) and a Th17 cytokine (IL-17A/F1a) was also up-regulated and correlated with enhanced expression of the IL-12 family α-chains, and the majority of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines, APPs and AMPs. These expression profiles may suggest that ERM vaccination activates host innate immunity and expression of specific IL-12 and IL-23 isoforms leading to a Th1 and Th17 biased immune response. A late induction of Th2 cytokines (IL-4/13B1-2) was also observed, that may have a homeostatic role and/or involvement in antibody production. This study has increased our understanding of the host immune response to ERM vaccination and the adaptive pathways involved. The early responses of a set of genes established in this study may provide essential information and function as biomarkers in future vaccine development in aquaculture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-30
Number of pages13
JournalFish & Shellfish Immunology
Early online date27 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019

Bibliographical note

This research was financially supported by the European Commission under the 7th Framework Programme for Research and Technological Development (EP7) of the European Union (grant agreement No. 311993 TARGETFISH). E.W. was supported by a PhD studentship from the royal Thai government. T.W. received funding from the MASTS pooling initiative (The Marine Alliance for Science and Technology for Scotland), that is funded by the Scottish Funding Council (grant reference HR09011).


  • enteric redmouth disease
  • vaccination
  • cytokine
  • acute phase protein
  • antimicrobial peptide
  • gene expression
  • T helper 1
  • T helper 17
  • spleen
  • rainbow trout


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