CIE Spotlight: Immunoglubolin dynamics and cancer prevalence in Tasmanian devils

Beata U. and Thomas M.

Beata U. and Thomas M.

Title: Immunoglubolin dynamics and cancer prevalence in Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii)

Authors: Beata Ujvari, Rodrigo Hamede, Sarah Peck, David Pemberton, Menna Jones, Katherine Belov & Thomas Madsen

Source: Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 25093 (2016)

Brief summary of the paper: Immunoglobulins such as IgG and IgM have been shown to induce anti-tumour cytotoxic activity. In the present study we therefore explore total serum IgG and IgM expression dynamics in 23 known-aged Tasmanian devils (Sarcophilus harrisii) of which 9 where affected by Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD). DFTD is clonally transmissible cancer that has caused massive declines in devil numbers.

Our analyses revealed that IgM and IgG expression levels as well as IgM/IgG ratios decreased with increasing devil age. Neither age, sex, IgM nor IgG expression levels affected devil DFTD status in our analyses.

However, devils with increased IgM relative to IgG expression levels had significantly lower DFTD prevalence. Our results therefore suggest that IgM/IgG ratios may play an important role in determining devil susceptibility to DFTD.

We consequently propose that our findings warrant further studies to elucidate the underpinning(s) of devil IgM/IgG ratios and DFTD status.

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