Thermal and physical stresses induce a short-term immune priming effect in Galleria mellonella larvae

Niall Browne, Carla Surlis, Kevin Kavanagh
Journal of Insect Physiology 2014, 63: 21-6
Exposure of larvae of Galleria mellonella larvae to mild physical (i.e. shaking) or thermal stress for 24h increased their ability to survive infection with Aspergillus fumigatus conidia however larvae stressed in a similar manner but incubated for 72h prior to infection showed no elevation in their resistance to infection with A. fumigatus. Stressed larvae demonstrated an elevated haemocyte density 24h after initiation of the stress event but this declined at 48 and 72h. Larval proteins such as apolipophorin, arylophorin and prophenoloxidase demonstrated elevated expression at 24h but not at 72h. Larvae maintained at 37°C showed increased expression of a range of antimicrobial and immune-related proteins at 24h but these decreased in expression thereafter. The results presented here indicate that G. mellonella larvae are capable of altering their immune response following exposure to mild thermal or physical stress to mount a response capable of counteracting microbial infection which reaches a peak 24h after the initiation of the priming event and then declines by 72h. A short-term immune priming effect may serve to prevent infection but maintaining an immune priming effect for longer periods may be metabolically costly and unnecessary while living within the colony of another insect.

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