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The PHA test as an indicator of phagocytic activity in a Passerine bird

AuthorsSalaberria, Concepción; Muriel, Jaime ; Luna, María de; Gil, Diego ; Puerta, Marisa L.
Issue Date31-Dec-2013
PublisherPublic Library of Science
CitationPLoS ONE 8(12): e84108 (2013)
AbstractSeveral techniques in ecological immunology have been used to assess bird immunocompetence thus providing useful information to understand the contribution of the immunological system in life-history decisions. The phytohaemagglutinin (PHA)-skin test has been the most widely employed technique being interpreted as the sole result of T lymphocytes proliferation and hence used to evaluate acquired immunological capacity. However, the presence of high numbers of phagocytic cells in the swelling point has cast some doubt about such an assumption. To address this issue, we collected blood from 14 days-old nestlings of spotless starling (Sturnus unicolor), administered subcutaneous PHA immediately after and then measured the swelling response 24 hours later. Differential counts of white blood cells suggested that an intense development of acquired immunological defences was taking place. The phagocytic activity of both heterophiles and monocytes was also very intense as it was the swelling response. Moreover, our results show, for the first time in birds, a positive relationship between the phagocytic activity of both kinds of cells and the swelling response. This broadens the significance of the PHA test from reflecting T lymphocytes proliferation -as previously proposed but still undetermined in vivo- to evaluate phagocytosis as well. In other words, our data suggest that the PHA swelling response may not be considered as the only consequence of processes of specific and induced immunity –T lymphocytes proliferation- but also of constitutive and nonspecific immunity –heterophiles and monocytes phagocytosis. We propose the extensive use of PHA-skin test as an optimal technique to assess immunocompetence.
DescriptionReceived June 7, 2013; Accepted November 12, 2013; Published December 31, 2013
Publisher version (URL)http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0084108
Appears in Collections:(MNCN) Artículos
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