Marine Biology

, Volume 148, Issue 2, pp 225–230 | Cite as

Release of phagocytosis-stimulating factor(s) by morula cells in a colonial ascidian

  • Adams Menin
  • Marcello del Favero
  • Francesca Cima
  • Loriano BallarinEmail author
Research Article


In vitro yeast phagocytosis by haemocytes of the compound ascidian Botryllus schlosseri was studied, with particular attention to interactions among different immunocyte types. It is demonstrated that the supernatant from haemocyte cultures matched with yeast cells contains factor(s) able to enhance yeast ingestion by Botryllus phagocytes. The increase in phagocytosis is not the consequence of yeast opsonisation, as the phagocytic index does not significantly increase when yeast cells, previously incubated in the culture media, are washed and re-suspended in filtered sea water. When haemocytes were fractionated by density gradient centrifugation and each band was incubated with yeast, the ability to stimulate phagocytosis was found in the supernatants from haemocyte cultures of fractions rich in morula cells (MC). Previous studies have demonstrated that MC express molecules recognised by anti-cytokine antibodies, as a consequence of the recognition of foreign molecules or cells. Our results indicate that molecules immunoreactive with anti-cytokine antibodies are required for modulating phagocyte activity, as the above-reported enhancing effect is completely absent in the presence of anti-IL-1-α and anti-TNF-α, but not of anti-rabbit-IgG antibodies, and they also highlight the presence of ‘cross-talk‘ between MC and phagocytes. A new scenario is therefore sketched, in which MC actively recognise non-self molecular patterns and, upon this recognition, release humoural factor(s) recognised by phagocytes, which modulate phagocytosis.


Yeast Cell Conditioned Medium Phagocytic Index Phagocytosis Assay Foreign Molecule 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the Italian M.I.U.R. (PRIN 2004).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adams Menin
    • 1
  • Marcello del Favero
    • 1
  • Francesca Cima
    • 1
  • Loriano Ballarin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Dipartimento di BiologiaUniversitá di PadovaPadovaItaly

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