Evolution of Histoincompatibility

  • E. L. Cooper
Part of the Proceedings in Life Sciences book series (LIFE SCIENCES)


Earthworms have been known in modern times since Darwin, but in relation to improvement of soil [23]. Comparative immunologists interested in evolution of immunity have now rediscovered the earthworm [11,12,29,31,40,43,71] to search for origins of immune mechanisms [13,14], as did Metchnikoffs crucial work and that of other early comparative immunologists [46], since certain invertebrates, including earthworms, may possess cells from which higher immune systems evolved. The immune system of animals in the phylum, Annelida, 9e.g., the eartworm) is housed in the coelom, which contains coelomic fluid, and coelomocytes, the worms’s leukocytes. Coelomocytes, like leukocytes, are sensitive to infections and are active in defense reations ranging from phagocytesis to the more complex cellular responses that govern the mechanisms of tissue graft rejection and those that ensure the synthesis of humoral defenses substances. To reaction againts foreign material, coelomocytes surely possess cellular recognition units or receptors, whose nature is still unknown. The receptors for antigents in mammals are antibodies, but antibodies or immunoglobulins have not been found in any invertebrates. Such species must, therefore, have different and perhaps simpler, primordial receptor units for antigen which may prove to be members of the Ig superfamily. The fundamental problem in studies of invertebrates in general using the earthworm’s immune system as an example, is to explain the process of receptor-mediated recognition of antigen.


Major Histocompatibility Complex Adoptive Transfer Graft Rejection Coelomic Fluid Transplantation Immunity 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • E. L. Cooper
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Anatomy, Center for Health SciencesUniversity of CaliforniaLos AngelesUSA

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