In news- Recently, scientists in a new study identified specialized immune cells in the cauliflower coral and starlet sea anemone that can help fight infection.
About the study
- The study, titled “Functional Characterization of Hexacorallia Phagocytic Cells,” was published in the journal Frontiers In Immunology.
- The findings are important to better understand how reef-building corals and other reef animals protect themselves from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses found in and around coral reefs.
- They have found that immune cells make up about three percent of the total cell population and that they have at least two populations of immune cells that perform functions unique from digestion.
- These findings are important because they show that corals have the cellular capabilities to fight infection and that they have unique cell types that were previously not known.
- To uncover these specialized immune cells, the researchers exposed foreign particles such as bacteria, fungal antigens, and beads into a cauliflower coral (Pocillopora damicornis) and starlet sea anemone (Nematostella vectensis) in the laboratory.
- They then used a process, called fluorescence-activated cell sorting, to isolate different cell populations.
- They found that specialized cells, known as phagocytic cells, engulfed the foreign particles, while small, fluid-filled structures inside the cells, called phagosomes, worked to destroy the invaders as well as their own damaged cells.
What are Sea anemones?
- They are ocean-dwelling members of the phylum Cnidaria.
- They are invertebrates belonging to the class of Anthozoa.
- The name Cnidaria refers to the cnidae, or nematocysts, that is, the cellular entity of the venom apparatus, which all Cnidarians possess.
- The phylum Cnidaria includes anemones, corals, jellyfish (including box jellyfish), and hydras.
- Sea anemones, named after a terrestrial flower, have a basic radial symmetry with tentacles that surround a central mouth opening.
What are immune cells?
- A cell that is part of the immune system and helps the body fight infections and other diseases
- Immune cells develop from stem cells in the bone marrow and become different types of white blood cells.
- These include neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, mast cells, monocytes, macrophages, dendritic cells, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes (B cells and T cells).
- The cells of the immune system can be categorized as lymphocytes (T-cells, B-cells and NK cells), neutrophils, and monocytes/macrophages.