Parasitology Research

, Volume 94, Issue 4, pp 304–311 | Cite as

Immune responses to fleas in two rodent species differing in natural prevalence of infestation and diversity of flea assemblages

  • Irina S. Khokhlova
  • Marina Spinu
  • Boris R. Krasnov
  • A. Allan Degen
Original Paper


We studied in vitro immune response to fleas in two gerbils, Gerbillus dasyurus and Gerbillus andersoni allenbyi, which differed in their natural species richness of flea assemblages and prevalence of infestation. G. dasyurus is parasitized naturally by several flea species, but the prevalence of infestation is low, whereas G. a. allenbyi is parasitized by a single flea species, with high prevalence of infestation. We hypothesized that immunological parameters and the cell-mediated specific immune response to an antigen from an unfamiliar flea species differ between the two gerbil species. Parasitized and control gerbils of both species demonstrated similar, relatively low levels of spontaneous glucose consumption. The same was true for the phytohemagglutinin treatment. Responses to antigen from unfamiliar flea species were higher than both spontaneous glucose consumption and response to phytohemagglutinin in parasitized and control G. a. allenbyi and parasitized G. dasyurus. However, no significant difference in the spontaneous blast transformation index and responses to both phytohemagglutinin and flea antigen was found in control G. dasyurus. The number of white blood cells was significantly lower in control than in parasitized G. dasyurus, whereas no difference in the number of white blood cells was found between control and parasitized G. a. allenbyi. The levels of circulating immune complexes and concentrations of immunoglobulins did not differ between parasitized and control individuals in both species. Phagocytic activity was significantly higher in males than in females of G. a. allenbyi but not of G. dasyurus. In addition, phagocytes of G. dasyurus appeared to be significantly more active than those of G. a. allenbyi.


Phagocytic Activity Circulate Immune Complex Flea Species Natural Species Richness Adult Body Mass 
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We thank the staff of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Health Science, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev for their help in freeze-drying of antigen pellets. M.S. received financial support from the Access to Research Infrastructure (ARI) program of the EU via the Blaustein Center for Scientific Cooperation of the Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. The experiments comply with the laws of the State of Israel. The experimental design was approved by the Ben-Gurion University Committee for the Ethical Care and Use Animals in Experiments (license IL-27-9-2003). This is publication no. 170 of the Ramon Science Center, and no. 433 of the Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Irina S. Khokhlova
    • 1
  • Marina Spinu
    • 2
  • Boris R. Krasnov
    • 3
  • A. Allan Degen
    • 1
  1. 1.Wyler Department of Dryland Agriculture, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevSede Boqer CampusIsrael
  2. 2.University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary MedicineCluj-NapocaRomania
  3. 3.Ramon Science Center and Mitrani Department of Desert Ecology, Jacob Blaustein Institute for Desert ResearchBen-Gurion University of the NegevMizpe Ramon Israel

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