Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 182, Issue 1, pp 41–48 | Cite as

Immune response and mechanical stress susceptibility in diseased oysters, Crassostrea virginica

  • Steven B. RobertsEmail author
  • Inke Sunila
  • Gary H. Wikfors
Original Paper


Eastern oysters, Crassostrea virginica, naturally infected with the parasite Perkinsus marinus were subjected to a mechanical stress by centrifugation, and immune parameters, pathological conditions, and gene expression of selected transcripts were compared to uninfected controls. Immune parameters were assessed by flow cytometry, pathology and parasites by histotechnology and fluid thioglycollate assays, and gene expression by quantitative RT-PCR. Irrespective of mechanical stress, an increased number of hemocytes were observed in P. marinus-infected oysters that corresponded to increased expression of genes that have been shown to be involved in inflammation and apoptosis, two processes associated with regulating immune cell populations. Mechanically stressed, diseased oysters showed histological gill abnormalities and aggregations of hemocytes in tissues not seen in stressed, uninfected oysters. Expression of a high-mobility group protein and hemocyte phagocytosis were significantly upregulated upon mechanical stress only in uninfected oysters. The results of this study demonstrate the role of inflammation in the oyster immune response including possible underlying molecular mechanisms. Furthermore, this study highlights the importance of considering mechanical stressors when characterizing oyster immune function.


Oyster Stress Gene expression Immune Hemocyte 



The technical assistance provided by Christina Romano, Jennifer Alix, April Croxton, Yaqin Li, Shannon Meseck, and Barry Smith is greatly appreciated. The authors would also like to acknowledge the beneficial comments of the three anonymous reviewers. This research was supported in part by the Cooperative State Research Education, and Extension Service, US Department of Agriculture, under Agreement No. 2003-38500-13505 (SR).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven B. Roberts
    • 1
    Email author
  • Inke Sunila
    • 2
  • Gary H. Wikfors
    • 3
  1. 1.University of Washington, School of Aquatic and Fishery SciencesSeattleUSA
  2. 2.State of Connecticut, Department of AgricultureBureau of AquacultureMilfordUSA
  3. 3.Northeast Fisheries Science CenterNMFS, NOAAMilfordUSA

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