In the present study, we confirmed that cellular immune responses, especially specific cell-mediated cytotoxicity, could be induced in systemic carp leucocytes, following anal administration of antigens. Effector cells isolated from systemic lymphoid tissues (head kidney, spleen and peripheral blood) of carp that were immunised anally with allogeneic cells (EPC or KG cell line) efficiently lysed immunogenic target cells. The lytic activity was increased as a result of secondary sensitisation and peaked around 7 days after the final immunisation. In some aspects, the alloantigen-specific cell-mediated cytotoxicity induced by anal sensitisation was different from that induced by intraperitoneal (i.p.) injection. First, the activity induced by anal immunisation was higher than that resulting from i.p. immunisation when fish were immunised twice with a 7-day interval, whereas similar kinetics of the cytotoxicity were observed after the final immunisation. Second, repeated anal administrations tended to decrease the cytotoxic activity, although repeated i.p. injections increased the activity. These findings indicate that the anal administration of antigens in fish can elicit and modulate cellular immune responses.
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