Unmethylated CpG motifs present in bacterial DNA are recognized by leucocyte receptors triggering an immune response. We have evaluated herein the immunomodulatory actions of a CpG motif in an important commercial fish, the gilthead seabream. Thus, 1, 3 and 7days after intraperitoneal injection of the CpG motif the seabream immune parameters and gene expression profile were evaluated. Firstly, humoral innate immune responses were unaffected by CpG ODN 1668. On the other hand, ODN injection significantly enhanced the number of peritoneal leucocytes (PELs) 1day after injection and increased the main innate immune parameters of PELs and HKLs (head-kidney leucocytes). Thus, injection of ODN 1668 significantly increased respiratory burst, peroxidase, cytotoxic and phagocytic activities, with variations in increment and time. The cytotoxic activity of HKLs was the most increased (up to 4.2-fold). Moreover, the expression profile of immune-relevant genes in head-kidney was affected, with substantial up-regulation of TLR9, IL-1beta, Mx, TGFbeta and Gal8 gene expression. These results demonstrate that unmethylated CpG motifs prime the fish immune response with promising applications for aquaculture.
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