Characteristics of Cell-Mediated Immunity and Memory in Annelids

  • Edwin L. Cooper
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 64)


To search for the phylogenesis of foreign tissue graft rejection we have utilized the common garden earthworm extensively. Whereas earthworms never destroy self-tissue or autografts, they are fully capable of rejecting foreign or not-self tissue allografts (1–5) or xenografts (6). At 15°C, single first-set xenografts exchanged between Lumbricus terrestris and Eisenia foetidaare destroyed at approximately 25–35 days. After a first-set graft is destroyed at 15°C, immunologic memory is demonstrable by regrafting the hosts with a second transplant from the original donor of the first-graft. Both positive and negative memory are demonstrable. Positive memory occurs when second-set transplants are rejected significantly faster than first-sets. By contrast, a lesser percentage of worms have grafts that show prolonged survival indicating negative memory. However, if repeat second-sets are performed at 15°C, five days after transplanting a first-set, during the induction phase of the immune response, there is no dissociation into positive and negative memory. Instead, both first- and second-set grafts are destroyed faster than a single graft (7). It appears therefore that at the evolutionary level of annelid worms, foreign transplant rejection is specific and the mechanism includes a memory component. Memory is one characteristic of adaptive immunity as defined for vertebrates (8).


Graft Rejection Inductive Phase Immunologic Memory Memory Response Positive Memory 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edwin L. Cooper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, School of MedicineUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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