Fish possess immunoglobulins, major histocompatibility complex (MHC), T-cell receptors, and lymphocyte populations analogous to B and T cells and can evoke specific immune responses against a variety of antigens. However, T-cell subsets have yet to be demonstrated and the information on cell-mediated immunity is limited. Here we briefly review our recent studies on specific cell-mediated immunity, particularly on cytotoxic T-cell function employing isogeneic fish and cell lines. Analyses of the graft-versus host reaction (GVHR) and cell-mediated cytotoxicity (CMC) against allogeneic erythrocytes or cell lines show alloantigen-specific cytotoxicity in clonal ginbuna crucian carp. We also describe specific cytotoxicity against virus-infected cells using clonal ginbuna and a syngeneic cell line. Lastly, we report MHC-restriction in CMC against virus-infected cells using homozygous clonal rainbow trout and trout cell line which share the same MHC class I allele. These studies on CMC strongly suggest the presence of antigen specific cytotoxic T cells in teleosts and functional similarities between the immune systems of fish and higher vertebrates. Experimental model systems established in these studies can be applied to the investigation of protective antigens to induce cell-mediated immunity for the development of fish vaccines.
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