Saprolegnia infection after vaccination in Atlantic salmon is associated with differential expression of stress and immune genes in the host

01 Nov 2020
Beckmann MJ, Saraiva M, McLaggan D, Pottinger TG and van West P


This study assessed the impact of routine vaccination of Atlantic salmon pre-smolts on gene expression and the possible link to saprolegniosis on Scottish fish farms. Fish were in 4 different groups 1) 'control' - fish without handling or vaccination 2) 'vaccinated' - fish undergoing full vaccination procedure 3) 'non vaccinated' - fish undergoing full vaccination procedure but not vaccinated and 4) 'vaccinated-MH' - fish undergoing vaccination, but procedure involved minimal handling. A strong increase in cortisol and glucose levels was observed after 1 h in all groups relative to the control group. Only in the non-vaccinated group did the level decrease to near control levels by 4 h. Expression levels of six stress marker genes in general for all groups showed down regulation over a 9-day sampling period. In contrast, expression levels for immune response genes in the head kidney showed significant up-regulation for all eight genes tested for both vaccinated groups whereas the non-vaccinated group showed up-regulation for only MHC-II and IL-6b in comparison to the control. Both the vaccination procedure and the administration of the vaccine itself were factors mediating changes in gene expression consistent with fish being susceptible to natural occurring saprolegniosis following vaccination.