, Volume 57, Issue 10, pp 782-789
Date: 28 Sep 2005

An Mhc class I allele associated to the expression of T-dependent immune response in the house sparrow

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Abstract

The major histocompatibility complex (Mhc) encodes for highly variable molecules, responsible for foreign antigen recognition and subsequent activation of immune responses in hosts. Mhc polymorphism should hence be related to pathogen resistance and immune activity, with individuals that carry either a higher diversity of Mhc alleles or one specific Mhc allele exhibiting a stronger immune response to a given antigen. Links between Mhc alleles and immune activity have never been explored in natural populations of vertebrates. To fill this gap, we challenged house sparrows (Passer domesticus) with two T-dependent antigens (phytohemagglutinin and sheep red blood cells) and examined both primary and secondary immune responses in relation to their Mhc class I genotypes. The total number of Mhc alleles had no influence on either primary or secondary response to the two antigens. One particular Mhc allele, however, was associated with an increased response to both antigens. Our results point toward a contribution of the Mhc, or of other genes in linkage disequilibrium with the Mhc, in the regulation of immune responses in a wild animal species.