The role of haemocytes and the lymphoid organ in the clearance of injected Vibrio bacteria in Penaeus monodon shrimp

C.B.T. van de Braak, M.H.A. Botterblom, E.A. Huisman, J.H.W.M. Rombout, W.P.W. van der Knaap

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149 Citations (Scopus)


In order to study the reaction of Penaeus monodon haemocytes, live Vibrio anguillarum bacteria were injected and the shrimp were periodically sampled. Immuno-double staining analysis with specific antisera against the haemocyte granules and bacteria showed that large numbers of haemocytes encapsulated the bacteria at the site of injection. A rapid decrease of live circulating bacteria was detected in the haemolymph. Bacterial clearance in the haemolymph was induced by humoral factors, as observed by agglutinated bacteria, and followed by uptake in different places in the body. Bacteria mainly accumulated in the lymphoid organ (LO), where they, or their degradation products, could be detected for at least 7 days after injection. The LO consists of folded tubules with a central haemal lumen and a wall, layered with cells. The haemolymph, including the antigens, seemed to migrate from the central tubular lumen through the wall, where the bacteria are arrested and their degradation is started. Electron microscopy of the LO revealed the presence of many phagocytic cells that morphologically resemble small-granular haemocytes. It is proposed that haemocytes settle in the tubule walls before they phagocytose. Immunostaining suggests that many of the haemocytes degranulate in the LO, producing a layer of fibrous material in the outer tubule wall. These findings might contribute to the reduced haemocyte concentration in the haemolymph of diseased animals or following injection of foreign material. It is proposed that the LO is a filter for virtually all foreign material encountered in the haemolymph. Observations from the present study are similar to clearance mechanisms in the hepatic haemolymph vessel in most decapod crustaceans that do not possess a LO. The experimental shrimp appeared to contain many LO spheroids, where bacterial antigens were finally observed as well. It is proposed that the spheroids have a degradation function for both bacterial and viral material, and that their presence is primarily related to the history of the infectious burden of the shrimp.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)293-309
JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
Publication statusPublished - 2002


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