As physical barriers that separate teleost fish from the external environment, mucosae are also active immunological sites that protect them against exposure to microbes and stressors. In mammals, the sites where antigens are sampled from mucosal surfaces and where stimulation of naïve T and B lymphocytes occurs are known as inductive sites and are constituted by mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT). According to anatomical location, the MALT in teleost fish is subdivided into gut-associated lymphoid tissue (GALT), skin-associated lymphoid tissue (SALT), and gill-associated lymphoid tissue (GIALT). All MALT contain a variety of leukocytes, including, but not limited to, T cells, B cells, plasma cells, macrophages and granulocytes. Secretory immunoglobulins are produced mainly by plasmablasts and plasma cells, and play key roles in the maintenance of mucosal homeostasis. Until recently, teleost fish B cells were thought to express only two classes of immunoglobulins, IgM and IgD, in which IgM was thought to be the only one responding to pathogens both in systemic and mucosal compartments. However, a third teleost immunoglobulin class, IgT/IgZ, was discovered in 2005, and it has recently been shown to behave as the prevalent immunoglobulin in gut mucosal immune responses. The purpose of this review is to summarise the current knowledge of mucosal immunoglobulins and B cells of fish MALT. Moreover, we attempt to integrate the existing knowledge on both basic and applied research findings on fish mucosal immune responses, with the goal to provide new directions that may facilitate the development of novel vaccination strategies that stimulate not only systemic, but also mucosal immunity.
Copyright © 2011. Published by Elsevier Ltd.