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Assessment of cellular immune responses of health and diseased Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii)


Kreiss, A and Fox, N and Bergfeld, J and Quinn, SJ and Pyecroft, S and Woods, GM, Assessment of cellular immune responses of health and diseased Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii), Developmental & Comparative Immunology, 32, (5) pp. 544-553. ISSN 0145-305X (2008) [Refereed Article]

DOI: doi:10.1016/j.dci.2007.09.002


The Tasmanian devil (TD) (Sarcophilus harrisii) is under threat from devil facial tumour disease (DFTD), a cancer that is transmitted between devils by direct cell implantation. As no devil is known to have rejected the tumour allograft, an understanding of the immune status of this species is essential to help explain the unique infectious nature of this cancer. We analysed differential white blood cell counts, the phagocytic response of neutrophils as well as mitogen-induced lymphocyte proliferation. Devils analysed included healthy TDs kept in captivity, healthy devils from disease-free and diseased areas as well as diseased devils. Neutrophils isolated from the peripheral blood of healthy devils showed competent phagocytosis and peripheral blood mononuclear cells from healthy and diseased devils proliferated in response to Con A, PHA and PWM stimulation. Although a wide range of responses was observed and relatively high doses of mitogens were required, there was no significant difference between males and females, adults and juveniles or between normal and diseased animals, suggesting that transmission of DFTD is not a consequence of a severely impaired immune system. As lymphocytes from all TDs appear to require strong stimulation for activation, this threshold may contribute to all devils being susceptible to DFTD.

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:Kreiss, A (Dr Alexandre Kreiss)
UTAS Author:Quinn, SJ (Dr Stephen Quinn)
UTAS Author:Woods, GM (Professor Gregory Woods)
ID Code:51190
Year Published:2008
Web of Science® Times Cited:33
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2007-08-01
Last Modified:2010-06-08

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