Cytotoxic T cells are known to have the ability to kill microbe-infected host cells, which makes them essential in the adaptive immunity processes of various vertebrates. In this study, we demonstrated innate cell-mediated cytotoxicity of CD8+ T cells against protozoan parasites found in the ginbuna crucian carp. When isolated effector cells such as CD8+, CD4+ (CD4-1+), or CD8− CD4− (double-negative, DN), from naïve ginbuna crucian carp were co-incubated with target parasites (Ichthyophthirius multifiliis), CD8+ cells from the kidney and gill showed the highest cytotoxic activity. On the other hand, DN cells, which include macrophages and CD4− CD8− lymphocytes, showed the lowest cytotoxic activity against I. multifiliis. Additionally, the cytotoxic activity of CD8+ cells was found to significantly decrease in the presence of a membrane separating the effector cells from I. multifiliis. Furthermore, the serine protease inhibitor 3,4-dichloroisocoumarin and perforin inhibitor concanamycin A significantly inhibited the cytotoxic activity of CD8+ cells. These results demonstrate that CD8+ T cells of ginbuna crucian carp can kill extracellular parasites in a contact-dependent manner via serine proteases and perforin. Therefore, we conclude that CD8+ T cells play an essential role in anti-parasite innate immunity of teleost fish.
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