Progress in molecular and subcellular biology

Echinoderm reactive oxygen species (ROS) production measured by peroxidase, luminol-enhanced chemiluminescence (PLCL) as an immunotoxicological tool.

PMID 17152694


The importance of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production in invertebrate immunity prompted the use of this response in immunotoxicological studies in several taxa including marine organisms. In this chapter, we review the effects of environmental factors and contaminants such as heavy metals and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on the production of ROS by the main immune effector cells of echinoderms, the so-called amoebocytes. ROS production was measured by the peroxidase, luminol-enhanced chemiluminescence (PLCL) method. This method was found to predominantly reflect the production of superoxide anions and peroxides, among which hydrogen peroxide and peroxynitrite are the main species detected. Exogenous factors such as water temperature and salinity can influence this immune response in echinoderms. However, gender, handling stress and parasitism by a castrating ciliate apparently did not affect it. The impact of metals on ROS production differed greatly according to the duration and routes of exposure; in vitro and short-term in vivo exposures to metals caused an inhibition of this immune response, while the opposite effect was observed in a long-term in vivo exposure study. On the other hand, PCBs systematically had a stimulatory effect on ROS production independent of the echinoderm species or exposure routes. From the study of complex field contaminations, it appeared that contaminants released in the environment, such as metals, modulate starfish amoebocyte ROS production. This impact potentially represents a threat to the sustainability of natural populations of echinoderms and thereby to the stability of benthic ecosystems.