Fish morbidity and mortality events in Chesapeake Bay tributaries have aroused concern over the health of this important aquatic ecosystem. We applied a recently described method for quantifying mRNA of an immunosuppressive cytokine, transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β), by reverse transcription quantitative-competitive polymerase chain reaction to a field study of fish health in the Chesapeake Basin, and compared the results to those of a traditional cellular immunoassay macrophage bactericidal activity. We selected the white perch (Morone americana) as the sentinel fish species because of its abundance at all of the collection sites. White perch were sampled from Chesapeake Bay tributaries in June, August, and October 1998. Splenic mononuclear cell TGF-β mRNA levels increased and anterior kidney macrophage bactericidal activity decreased, particularly in eastern shore tributaries, from June to August and October. The results of the two assays correlated inversely (Kendall's τb = -0.600; p = 0.0102). The results indicated both temporal and spatial modulation of white perch immune systems in the Chesapeake Basin, and demonstrated the utility of quantitative PCR for TGF-β as a molecular biomarker for field assessment of teleost fish immune status.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis