Expression of immune-regulatory genes in juvenile Chinook salmon following exposure to pesticides and infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV)

Kai J. Eder, Mark A. Clifford, Ronald Hedrick, Heinz R. Köhler, Ingeborg Werner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

70 Scopus citations


Impairment of fish immune function as a consequence of polluted aquatic environments can result in changes in susceptibility to disease. In this study, we investigated the effects of two widely used insecticides, chlorpyrifos (CP) and esfenvalerate (EV), and a pathogen, infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV), singly and in combination, on survival and cytokine (Mx protein, IL-1β, TGF-β and IGF-1) expression in juvenile Chinook salmon. Fish were exposed for 96 h to sublethal concentrations of CP (3.7 μg L-1) or EV (0.08 μg L-1), allowed to recover in clean water for seven days, then exposed to IHNV (6.4 × 105 TCID50 mL-1) for 1.5 h. Mortality was recorded daily, and spleen and anterior kidney samples were collected on day 4 (after CP or EV treatment), day 20 and day 60 (after CP or EV treatment and subsequent IHNV exposure) of the experiment. Significant mortality after 60 days was observed following exposure to EV (17%) or IHNV (20%), and prior insecticide exposure did not synergize the acute effects of pathogen treatment. By day 4, exposure to CP as well as EV led to a significant decrease of Mx protein and IL-1β expression; by day 20, EV-exposed fish significantly overexpressed IL-1β. Mx protein transcription was up-regulated in spleen and kidney of all IHNV-exposed fish groups by day 20. All but one treatment (EV) led to significantly decreased IGF-1 transcription in spleen on days 20 and 60, whereas a short-term increase was seen after CP exposure (day 4). In kidney, decreases of IGF-1 transcription were less pronounced. TGF-β transcription was up-regulated in CP/IHNV and EV/IHNV exposure groups. Our results indicate that CP and EV alter the expression of cytokines, but this did not negatively affect the ability of fish to survive a subsequent exposure to IHNV. Induced TGF-β transcription indicated that the combined stressors affected fish in a synergistic manner, but the consequences are unknown. Increased transcription of Mx protein was a reliable indicator of virus exposure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-516
Number of pages9
JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2008


  • Chinook salmon
  • Cytokine
  • Gene expression
  • Infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus
  • Pesticide

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Aquatic Science


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