Trypanosoma carassii infection in goldfish (Carassius auratus L.): changes in the expression of erythropoiesis and anemia regulatory genes

  • Mark McAllister
  • Nicole Phillips
  • Miodrag BelosevicEmail author
Fish Parasitology - Original Paper


Trypanosoma carassii is a flagellated bloodstream parasite of cyprinid fish with pathogenesis manifesting primarily as anemia in experimentally infected fish. This anemia is characterized by decreases in the number of circulating red blood cells (RBCs) during peak parasitemia. We examined changes in the key blood metrics and expression of genes known to be important in the regulation of erythropoiesis. Increasing parasitemia was strongly correlated with an overall decrease in the total number of circulating RBCs. Gene expression of key erythropoiesis regulators (EPO, EPOR, GATA1, Lmo2, and HIFα) and proinflammatory cytokines (IFNγ and TNFα) were measured and their expressions differed from those in fish made anemic by injections of phenylhydrazine (PHZ). Significant upregulation of pro-erythropoietic genes was observed in PHZ-induced anemia, but not during peak parasitic infection. Previously, we reported on functional characterization of goldfish erythropoietin (rgEPO) and its ability to induce survival and differentiation of erythroid progenitor cells in vitro. Treatment of goldfish during the infection with rgEPO reduced the severity of anemia but failed to fully prevent the onset of the anemic state in infected fish. Proinflammatory cytokines have been implicated in the suppression of erythropoiesis during trypanosomiasis, specifically the cytokines TNFα, IFNγ, and IL-1β. Analysis of key proinflammatory cytokines revealed that mRNA levels of IFNγ and TNFα were upregulated in response to infection, but only TNFα increased in response to PHZ treatment. Synergistic activity of the proinflammatory cytokines may be required to sustain prolonged anemia. These findings provide insight into the relationship between T. carassii and host anemia and suggest that T. carassii may directly or indirectly suppress host erythropoiesis.


Erythropoietin EPO Trypanosome Anemia Gene expression Packed cell volume PCV Proinflammatory 


Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological Sciences, CW-405 Biological Sciences BuildingUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada

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