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ISRN Immunology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 853470, 29 pages
Review Article

An Overview of the Immunological Defenses in Fish Skin

Fish Innate Immune System Group, Department of Cell Biology and Histology, Faculty of Biology, University of Murcia, Regional Campus of International Excellence “Campus Mare Nostrum”, 30100 Murcia, Spain

Received 26 August 2012; Accepted 12 September 2012

Academic Editors: A. Bensussan, E. Flaño, J. D. Hayball, and P. Puccetti

Copyright © 2012 María Ángeles Esteban. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The vertebrate immune system is comprised of numerous distinct and interdependent components. Every component has its own inherent protective value, and the final combination of them is likely to be related to an animal’s immunological history and evolutionary development. Vertebrate immune system consists of both systemic and mucosal immune compartments, but it is the mucosal immune system which protects the body from the first encounter of pathogens. According to anatomical location, the mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue, in teleost fish is subdivided into gut-, skin-, and gill-associated lymphoid tissue and most available studies focus on gut. The purpose of this paper is to summarise the current knowledge of the immunological defences present in skin mucosa as a very important part of the fish immune system, serving as an anatomical and physiological barrier against external hazards. Interest in defence mechanism of fish arises from a need to develop health management tools to support a growing finfish aquaculture industry, while at the same time addressing questions concerning origins and evolution of immunity in vertebrates. Increased knowledge of fish mucosal immune system will facilitate the development of novel vaccination strategies in fish.