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Immune phenomena in echinoderms

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Advances in biochemistry and molecular biology have made it possible to identify a number of mechanisms active in the immune phenomena of echinoderms. It is obvious that echinoderms have the ability to distinguish between different foreign objects (pathologically changed tissues, microorganisms, parasites, grafts) and to express variable effector mechanisms which are elicited specifically and repeatably after a variety of non-self challenges. The molecular and biochemical basis for the expression of these variable defense mechanisms and the specific signals which elicit one type of effector mechanism are not, however, yet well known. The high capacity of coelomocytes to phagocytose, entrap and encapsulate invading microorganisms is a valid immune cell-mediated mechanism of echinoderms. The entrapped bacteria, discharged cellular materials and disintegrating granular cells are compacted and provoke the cellular encapsulation reaction. Moreover, humoral-based reactions form an integral part of the echinoderm defense system against microbial invaders. Factors such as lysozyme, perforins (hemolysins) vitellogenin and lectins are normal constituents of hemolymph, while cytokines are synthesized by echinoderms in response to infection.
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Z. Glinski, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Agriculture, Akademicka 12, 20-033 Lublin, Poland
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