Unique phagocytic properties of hemocytes of Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas against yeast and yeast cell-wall derivatives

Keisuke G. Takahashi, Nakako Izumi-Nakajima, Katsuyoshi Mori

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    7 Citations (Scopus)


    For a marine bivalve mollusk such as Pacific oyster Crassostrea gigas, the elimination of foreign particles via hemocyte phagocytosis plays an important role in host defense mechanisms. The hemocytes of C. gigas have a high phagocytic ability for baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and its cell-wall product zymosan. C. gigas hemocytes might phagocytose yeast cells after binding to polysaccharides on the cell-wall surface, but it is unknown how and what kinds of polysaccharide molecules are recognized. We conducted experiments to determine differences in the phagocytic ability of C. gigas hemocytes against heat-killed yeast (HK yeast), zymosan and zymocel, which are similarly sized and shaped but differ in the polysaccharide composition of their particle surface. We found that both the agranulocytes and granulocytes exerted strong phagocytic ability on all tested particles. The phagocytic index (PI) of granulocytes for zymosan was 9.4 ± 1.7, which significantly differed with that for HK yeast and zymocel (P < 0.05). To evaluate the PI for the three types of particles, and especially to understand the outcome of the much higher PI for zymosan, PI was gauged in increments of 5 (1–5, 6–10, 11–15, and ≥16), and the phagocytic frequencies were compared according to these increments. The results show that a markedly high PI of ≥16 was exhibited by 18.1% of granulocytes for zymosan, significantly higher than 1.7% and 3.9% shown for HK yeast and zymocel, respectively (P < 0.05). These findings indicate that the relatively high PI for zymosan could not be attributed to a situation wherein all phagocytic hemocytes shared a high mean PI, but rather to the ability of some hemocytes to phagocytose a larger portion of zymosan. To determine whether the phagocytosis of these respective particles depended on the recognition of specific polysaccharide receptors on the hemocyte surface, C. gigas hemocytes were pretreated with soluble α-mannan or β-laminarin and then allowed to phagocytose the three types of the particles. The percentage of phagocytic cells of β-laminarin-treated granulocytes decreased significantly for zymosan and zymocel, but not for yeast. These results suggest that C. gigas might possess at least two types of hemocytes, and that one type of the hemocytes (granulocytes) is more active for phagocytosis. The granulocytes were found to have multiple subtypes with different phagocytic abilities and multiple phagocytic receptors. Some of the granulocyte subtypes revealed a much stronger phagocytic ability, depending on the presence of β-glucan receptors for phagocytosis.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)575-582
    Number of pages8
    JournalFish and Shellfish Immunology
    Publication statusPublished - 2017 Nov


    • Agranulocytes
    • Crassostrea gigas
    • Granulocytes
    • Hemocytes
    • Oyster
    • Phagocytosis
    • Yeast
    • Zymosan
    • β-glucan receptor

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Environmental Chemistry
    • Aquatic Science


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