Humoral and mucosal immune responses in meagre (Argyrosomus regius) juveniles fed diets with varying inclusion levels of carob seed germ meal

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Many studies have assessed the effects of incorporation of plant feedstuffs in fish diets on growth performance, whereas few studies have addressed the effects of fish meal replacement by plant protein sources on fish immune parameters. Thus, the aim of this study was to evaluate the effects on immune response of different inclusion levels of carob seed germ meal (CSGM) as partial replacement for fish meal in diets for meagre (Argyrosomus regius) juveniles. Fish were fed four experimental diets with increased CSGM inclusion levels [0% (control), 7.5% (CSGM7.5), 15% (CSGM15) and 22.5% (CSGM22.5)]. After 1, 2, and 8 weeks of feeding fish were sampled to determine haematological profile and several humoral parameters in plasma and intestine. Results showed that dietary inclusion of CSGM did not negatively affect the immune parameters of meagre. In addition, total numbers of red and white blood cells, as well as thrombocytes, lymphocytes, monocytes, and neutrophils counts were not affected by dietary treatments. All parameters evaluated in plasma were unaffected by dietary CSGM inclusion after 1 and 2 weeks of feeding, with only the haemolytic complement activity showing an increase in fish fed diets with CSGM after 1 week and in fish fed CSGM22.5 diet after 2 weeks. Regarding the innate immune parameters analysed in the intestine, it could be highlighted the increase in alkaline phosphatase and antiprotease activities in fish fed the diet with the higher inclusion of CSGM at 8 weeks. Overall, results suggest that high dietary CSGM inclusion do not compromise immune status or induce an inflammatory response in meagre juveniles.

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