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The Immune Response of the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and Devil Facial Tumour Disease


Woods, GM and Kreiss, A and Bekov, K and Siddle, HV and Obendorf, DL and Muller, HK, The Immune Response of the Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii) and Devil Facial Tumour Disease, EcoHealth, 4, (3) pp. 338-345. ISSN 1612-9202 (2007) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1007/s10393-007-0117-1


One of the most remarkable aspects of Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD) is its infectious nature, and for successful transmission it must avoid detection by the devil's immune system. For this to occur, the devil either is severely immunosuppressed or factors produced by the tumor contribute to its avoidance of immune detection. An analysis of the devil's immune system revealed the presence of normal-looking lymphoid organs and lymphoid cells. At a functional level the lymphocytes proliferated in response to mitogen stimulation. Subcutaneous injection of a cellular antigen produced a strong antibody response, providing compelling evidence that the devil has a competent immune system. Tumor cell analysis demonstrated that the tumor expresses the genes of the major histocompatibility complex; however, there was a limited diversity. Therefore, the most likely explanation for devil-to-devil transmission of DFTD is that the tumor is not recognized by the devil as "non-self" because of the limited genetic diversity. With its consistent morphology and relatively stable genome, this tumor would provide a reasonable target for a vaccine approach, provided the immune system can be coaxed into recognizing the tumor as "non-self." © 2007 Ecohealth Journal Consortium.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences
Research Group:Veterinary sciences
Research Field:Veterinary immunology
Objective Division:Environmental Management
Objective Group:Terrestrial systems and management
Objective Field:Terrestrial biodiversity
UTAS Author:Woods, GM (Professor Gregory Woods)
UTAS Author:Kreiss, A (Dr Alexandre Kreiss)
UTAS Author:Obendorf, DL (Dr David Obendorf)
UTAS Author:Muller, HK (Professor Konrad Muller)
ID Code:50928
Year Published:2007
Web of Science® Times Cited:53
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2007-08-01
Last Modified:2009-09-09

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