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Journal Articles Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology Year : 2010

Phagocytosis in pup and adult harbour, grey and harp seals.


Knowledge on pinniped immunology is still in its infancy. For instance, age-related and developmental aspects of the immune system in pinnipeds need to be better described. The present study examined the phagocytic activity and efficiency of harbour, grey and harp seal leukocytes. In the first part of the study, peripheral blood was collected from captive female harbour seals of various ages. Data showed an age-related decrease in phagocytosis in female harbour seals from sub-adult to adulthood. In the second part of the study, changes in phagocytosis were quantified during lactation in wild newborn harbour, grey and harp seals and in their mothers (harp and grey seals). In newborns of the same age, leukocytes of harbour and harp seals phagocytosed less than those of grey seal pups. The phagocytic activity and efficiency increased significantly from early to mid-lactation in newborn harbour seals, and from early to late lactation in newborn grey seals, which could suggest that the transfer of phagocytosis-promoting factor(s) in colostrum is an important feature of temporary protection for pups. In contrast, no changes in phagocytic activity and efficiency were observed in lactating females of the two seal species, harp and grey, examined. At late lactation, phagocytic activity in both grey and harp seal pups and phagocytic efficiency in grey seal pups were significantly higher than in their mothers. These results could reflect either the capacity of phagocytes of the newborn harp and grey seals to respond to pathogens. Results from this study suggest that the phagocytosis of the seal species examined is not fully developed at birth as it generally increases in pups during lactation. Thereafter, the phagocytic activity of seals appears to decrease throughout adulthood.


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Dates and versions

pasteur-00819580 , version 1 (01-05-2013)



Héloïse Frouin, Michel Lebeuf, Mike Hammill, Michel Fournier. Phagocytosis in pup and adult harbour, grey and harp seals.. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, 2010, 134 (3-4), pp.160-8. ⟨10.1016/j.vetimm.2009.08.017⟩. ⟨pasteur-00819580⟩


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