Fish immunity: The potential impact on vaccine development and performance

Chris J. Secombes*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The recent years have witnessed a vast increase in our knowledge of the immune system of fish (Lieschke & Trede 2009). We now know of families of immune molecules that have been expanded in fish relative to other vertebrates, as seen with the tripartite motif family proteins (Van der Aa, Levraud, Yahmi, Lauret, Briolat, Herbomel, Benmansour & Boudinot 2009), and that in some cases, completely novel immune genes are present, which include, among others, the novel immunoglobulin-like transcripts (Østergaard, Martin, Wang, Stet & Secombes 2009) and novel immune-type receptors (Yoder 2009). Nevertheless, at a basic level, the teleost immune system appears to operate in a manner that would be familiar to a mammalian immunologist, and many of the key molecules needed for control have been discovered and include a large number of cytokines that act as paracrine signals and cell surface-associated receptor–ligand systems that mediate co-stimulatory effects (Gong, Xiang & Shao 2009; Secombes, Zou & Bird 2009; Sugamata, Suetake, Kikuchi & Suzuki 2009). As predicted from early immunization/vaccination studies (Ellis 1988; Midtlyng 2005), fish clearly possess an adaptive immune response that can be primed by prior exposure to foreign molecules, as occurs during an infection or vaccination. Such fish may be immune upon re-exposure to the same molecules from a pathogen, if the correct type of immune response was triggered initially, and hence the reason for reference to specific immunity and immunological memory. These are features apparently absent from invertebrate immune systems, or at least not mediated by the same molecular mechanisms. So, does this new knowledge help to develop better means to control fish diseases and improve fish health, particularly in relation to aquaculture?
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)90-92
Number of pages3
JournalAquaculture Research
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2011


  • Fish
  • Immune system
  • Immunity
  • Vaccination


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