Mucosal immune responses to Ichthyophthirius multifiliis in the ocular mucosa of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss, Walbaum), an ancient teleost fish

Mar Life Sci Technol. 2023 Oct 31;6(2):266-279. doi: 10.1007/s42995-023-00199-6. eCollection 2024 May.


The eye, as a specialized visual organ, is directly exposed to the external environment, and, therefore, it faces constant challenges from external pathogenic organisms and toxins. In the ocular mucosa (OM) of mammals, mucosal-associated lymphoid tissues (MALTs) constitute the primary line of defense. However, the immune defense role of the OM remains unknown in aquatic vertebrates. To gain insights into the immune processes within the OM of teleost fish, we developed an infection model of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) OM using a parasite, Ichthyophthirius multifiliis (Ich). Immunofluorescence, qPCR, and H&E staining revealed that Ich successfully infiltrates the OM of rainbow trout, leading to pathological structural changes, as evidenced by A&B staining. Importantly, the qPCR results indicate an up-regulation of immune-related genes following Ich infection in the OM. Moreover, transcriptome analyses were conducted to detect immune responses and impairments in eye function within the OM of rainbow trout with Ich infection. The results of the transcriptome analysis that Ich infection can cause an extensive immune response in the OM, ultimately affecting ocular function. To the best of our knowledge, our findings represent for the first time that the teleost OM could act as an invasion site for parasites and trigger a strong mucosal immune response to parasitic infection.

Supplementary information: The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1007/s42995-023-00199-6.

Keywords: Ichthyophthirius multifiliis; Mucosal immunity; Ocular mucosa; Oncorhynchus mykiss; Transcriptome analysis.