Plasma immune protein analysis in the orange-spotted grouperEpinephelus coioides: Evidence for altered expressions of immune factors associated with a choline-supplemented diet

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This study aimed to unravel the regulatory roles of choline in activating immune responses and disease resistance of the orange-spotted grouper Epinephelus coioides. Fish were fed a choline-supplemented diet at 1 g kg−1 of feed for 30 days. Fish fed a fish meal basal diet without choline-supplement served as controls. At the end of the feeding trial, fish were challenged with Vibrio alginolyticus. Meanwhile, plasma proteomics of fish in each group were also evaluated by two-dimensional gel electrophoresis (2-DE), and differentially expressed proteins were identified by tandem mass spectrophotometry (MS/MS), then a Western blot analysis or real-time polymerase chain reaction was used to confirm differential expressions of immune-enhancing proteins. Results showed that choline significantly increased survival of E. coioides 48 days after being injected with V. alginolyticus. From maps of plasma proteins, a comparative analysis between the control and choline groups revealed that 111 spots matched, with 26 altered expression spots in the choline group. Of these 26 spots, 16 were upregulated and 10 downregulated. After protein identification by reverse-phase nano-high-performance liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization MS/MS analysis, eight of 26 proteins were found to be immune-related proteins, all of which were upregulated, including complement 3 (C3), alpha-2-macroglobulin-P-like isoform (A2M), fibrinogen beta chain precursor (FBG), and immunoglobulin heavy constant mu (Ighm) proteins. Expression of the A2M protein and A2M enzyme activity in plasma of fish fed choline significantly increased compared to the control group. Additionally, A2M messenger (m)RNA transcripts were also upregulated in the liver and kidneys. Significantly higher C3 expressions at both the mRNA and protein levels were detected in the liver of fish in the choline group. Moreover, FBG gene expressions in the liver and kidneys significantly increased, while Ighm increased in the kidneys and spleen of fish in the choline group. Our results suggest that dietary administration of choline can protect grouper against bacterial infections through activating the complement system, thereby inducing antiprotease activity and natural antibodies that play important roles in the innate immune system of fish.

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