A fish model for the study of the relationship between neuroendocrine and immune cells in the intestinal epithelium:Silurus glanisinfected with a tapeworm

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Immunohistochemical, immunofluorescence and ultrastructural studies were conducted on a sub-population of 20 wels catfish Silurus glanis from a tributary of the River Po (Northern Italy). Fish were examined for the presence of ecto- and endo-parasites; in the intestine of 5 fish, 11 specimens of cestode Glanitaenia osculata were noted and was the only helminth species encountered. The architecture of intestine and its cellular features were nearly identical in either the uninfected S. glanis or in those harboring G. osculata. Near the site of worm's attachment, mucous cells, several mast cells (MCs), few neutrophils and some endocrine cells (ECs) were found to co-occur within the intestinal epithelium. MCs and neutrophils were abundant also in the submucosa. Immunohistochemical staining revealed that enteric ECs were immunoreactive to met-enkephalin, galanin and serotonin anti-bodies. The numbers of ECs, mucous cells and MCs were significantly higher in infected wels catfish (Mann-Whitney U test, p < 0.05). Dual immunofluorescence staining with the biotinylated lectin Sambucus nigra Agglutinin and the rabbit polyclonal anti-met-enkephalin or anti-serotonin, with parallel transmission electron microscopy, showed that ECs often made intimate contact with the mucous cells and epithelial MCs. The presence of numerous MCs in intestinal epithelium shows S. glanis to be an interesting model fish to study processes underlying intestinal inflammation elicited by an enteric worm. Immune cells, ECs and mucous cells of the intestinal epithelium have been described at the ultrastructural level and their possible functions and interactions together will be discussed.

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