Does dietary insect meal affect the fish immune system? The case of mealworm,Tenebrio molitoron European sea bass,Dicentrarchus labrax
Feeding small European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, for 6 weeks with Tenebrio molitor larval meal showed significant anti-inflammatory responses (ceruloplasmin, myeloperoxidase and nitric oxide). Serum bacteriolytic activity against a Gram negative bacterium was not significantly affected by dietary Tenebrio, while both lysozyme antibacterial activity and serum trypsin inhibition usually linked to the anti-parasite activity of the fish, were significantly enhanced. The latter may be due to the similarities in the composition of the exoskeleton of parasites and insects that may therefore act as an immunostimulant potentially increasing the anti-parasitic activity. The addition of exogenous proteases significantly decreased both trypsin-inhibition and serum bacteriolytic activity probably through direct inhibition of the proteins responsible for these immune functions. Further investigation involving bacterial or parasitic challenges will be necessary to assess if the effects of dietary mealworm meal on the immune system observed in the present study are translated into an improved resistance to diseases.