The interbranchial lymphoid tissue likely contributes to immune tolerance and defense in the gills of Atlantic salmon
Central and peripheral immune tolerance is together with defense mechanisms a hallmark of all lymphoid tissues. In fish, such tolerance is especially important in the gills, where the intimate contact between gill tissue and the aqueous environment would otherwise lead to continual immune stimulation by innocuous antigens. In this paper, we focus on the expression of genes associated with immune regulation by the interbranchial lymphoid tissue (ILT) in an attempt to understand its role in maintaining immune homeostasis. Both healthy and virus-challenged fish were investigated, and transcript levels were examined from laser-dissected ILT, gills, head kidney and intestine. Lack of Aire expression in the ILT excluded its involvement in central tolerance and any possibility of its being an analogue to the thymus. On the other hand, the ILT appears to participate in peripheral immune tolerance due to its relatively high expression of forkhead box protein 3 (Foxp3) and other genes associated with regulatory T cells (Tregs) and immune suppression.