Seaweeds contain a number of health enhancing and antimicrobial bioactive compounds including sulfated polysaccharides (SP). In the present study, SP extracted from a European red seaweed Irish moss Chondrus crispus was chemically analyzed, SP content extracted and the immune-response effect on wild Irish mussels Mytilus spp. investigated for the first time. A high percent yield of SP was extracted from C. crispus and the immune-stimulant activity of SP was assessed in a laboratory trial with mussels exposed to three different treatments of low (10 μg mL-1), medium (20 μg mL-1) and high (50 μg mL-1) SP dose concentrations and a control mussel group with no exposure to SP. An initial mussel sample was processed prior to the trial commencing and mussels were subsequently sampled on Days 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, and 10 post SP exposure. Both cell, humoral and immune related gene responses including haemocyte cell viability, haemocyte counts, lysozyme activity and expression of immune related genes (defensin, mytimycin and lysozyme mRNA) were assessed. No mussel mortalities were observed in either the treated or non-treated groups. Mussels exposed with SP showed an increase in haemocyte cell viability and the total number of haemocytes compared to control mussels. Lysozyme activity was also higher in treated mussels. Additionally, up-regulated expression of defensin, mytimycin and lysozyme mRNA was observed in SP treated mussels shortly after exposure (on Days 1, 2, and 3) to SP. These results indicate that a high quality yield of SP can be readily extracted from C. crispus and more importantly based on the animal model used in this study, SP extracted from C. crispus can rapidly induce health enhancing activities in Mytilus spp. at a cellular, humoral and molecular level and with a prolonged effect up to ten days post treatment.
Keywords: Chondrus crispus; Immune responses; Mytilus spp; Sulfated polysaccharides.
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