Adherent Intestinal Cells From Atlantic Salmon Show Phagocytic Ability and Express Macrophage-Specific Genes

Youngjin Park, Qirui Zhang, Geert F. Wiegertjes, Jorge M.O. Fernandes, Viswanath Kiron*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Our knowledge of the intestinal immune system of fish is rather limited compared to mammals. Very little is known about the immune cells including the phagocytic cells in fish intestine. Hence, employing imaging flow cytometry and RNA sequencing, we studied adherent cells isolated from healthy Atlantic salmon. Phagocytic activity and selected gene expression of adherent cells from the distal intestine (adherent intestinal cells, or AIC) were compared with those from head kidney (adherent kidney cells, or AKC). Phagocytic activity of the two cell types was assessed based on the uptake of Escherichia coli BioParticlesTM. AIC showed phagocytic ability but the phagocytes were of different morphology compared to AKC. Transcriptomic analysis revealed that AIC expressed genes associated with macrophages, T cells, and endothelial cells. Heatmap analysis of selected genes indicated that the adherent cells from the two organs had apparently higher expression of macrophage-related genes. We believe that the adherent intestinal cells have phagocytic characteristics and high expression of genes commonly associated with macrophages. We envisage the possibilities for future studies on enriched populations of adherent intestinal cells.
Original languageEnglish
Article number580848
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2020


  • adherent
  • Atlantic salmon
  • ImageStream
  • intestinal cells
  • macrophages
  • phagocytosis
  • RNA-Seq

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