Data_Sheet_2_Developing Immune Profiles of Endangered Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) Pups Within the Context of Endemic Hookworm (Uncinaria sa.docx (42.91 kB)
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Data_Sheet_2_Developing Immune Profiles of Endangered Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) Pups Within the Context of Endemic Hookworm (Uncinaria sanguinis) Infection.docx

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posted on 21.04.2022, 04:34 authored by María-Ignacia Meza Cerda, Rachael Gray, Peter C. Thomson, Loreena Butcher, Kelly Simpson, Abby Cameron, Alan D. Marcus, Damien P. Higgins

As a top predator, the endangered Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) is a sentinel of ecosystem change, where population trends can reflect broader shifts in the marine environment. The population of this endemic pinniped was historically diminished by commercial sealing, and recovery has been slowed by fishery interactions, disease and, potentially, pollutants. Hookworm infects 100% of neonatal pups and has been identified as a contributor to population decline. Here, a multivariable approach using traditional serological and novel molecular tools such as qPCR and ddPCR was used to examine immune phenotypes of developing Australian sea lion pups infected with the endemic hookworm (Uncinaria sanguinis) from two South Australian colonies. Results show changing immunophenotypes throughout the patent period of infection represented by pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-6), IgG and acute-phase proteins. Although cytokines may prove useful as markers of resistance, in this study, IL-6 is determined to be an early biomarker of inflammation in Australian sea lion pups, excluding the alternative hypothesis. Additionally, immunological differences between animals from high- and low-intensity hookworm seasons, as well as ivermectin-treated animals, indicate hookworm infection modulation of the host immune response, as evidenced by a lower IL-6 mRNA expression in the non-treated groups. This study of the Australian sea lion is an example of an ecoimmunological approach to disease investigation, which can be applied to evaluate the impact of environmental and anthropogenic factors on susceptibility to infectious diseases in free-ranging species

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