Cytotoxic activities of fish leucocytes

Uwe Fischer, Katrin Utke, Tomonori Somamoto, Bernd Köllner, Mitsuru Ototake, Teruyuki Nakanishi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

170 Citations (Scopus)


Like mammalian leucocytes, white blood cells of fish are able to kill altered (e.g. virus-infected) and foreign (allogeneic or xenogeneic) cells. The existence of natural killer (NK)-like and specific cytotoxic cells in fish was first shown using allogeneic and xenogeneic effector/target cell systems. In addition to in vivo and ex vivo studies, very important contributions were made by in vitro analysis using a number of different long-term cytotoxic cell lines established from channel catfish. In mammals, specific cell-mediated cytotoxicity (CMC) as part of the adaptive immune response requires a number of key molecules expressed on effector leucocytes and target cells. CD8+ T lymphocytes kill infected cells only, if their antigen receptor (TCR) matches the MHC class I with bound peptide of the target cell. Expression patterns of the fish gene homologues for TCR, CD8 and MHC class I, as well as related genes, are in agreement with similar function. Convenient systems for the analysis of specific CMC have only recently become available for fish with the combination of clonal fish with syngeneic or allogeneic but MHC class I matching cell lines. It was demonstrated that both, NK- and cytotoxic T (Tc) cells are involved in the killing of virus infected MHC class I matching and mismatching target cells. Analysis of these lymphocyte subsets is only starting for fish. There is also evidence that the different viral proteins trigger different subsets of killer cells. This review further discusses findings on fish CMC with regard to temperature/seasons and ontogeny.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-226
Number of pages18
JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2006
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Aquatic Science


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