A role for GH and IGF-I in the modulation of the immune system has been under discussion for decades. Generally, GH is considered a stimulator of innate immune parameters in mammals and teleost fish. The stimulatory effects in humans as well as in bony fish often appear to be correlated with elevated endocrine IGF-I (liver-derived), which has also been shown to be suppressed during infection in some studies. Nevertheless, data are still fragmentary. Some studies point to an important role of GH and IGF-I particularly during immune organ development and constitution. Even less is known about the potential relevance of local (autocrine/paracrine) IGF-I within adult and developing immune organs, and the distinct localization of IGF-I in immune cells and tissues of mammals and fish has not been systematically defined. Thus far, IGF-I has been localized in different mammalian immune cell types, particularly macrophages and granulocytes, and in supporting cells, but not in T-lymphocytes. In the present study, we detected IGF-I in phagocytic cells isolated from rainbow trout head kidney and, in contrast to some findings in mammals, in T-cells of a channel catfish cell line. Thus, although numerous analogies among mammals and teleosts exist not only for the GH/IGF-system, but also for the immune system, there are differences that should be further investigated. For instance, it is unclear whether the primarily reported role of GH/IGF-I in the innate immune response is due to the lack of studies focusing on the adaptive immune system, or whether it truly preferentially concerns innate immune parameters. Infectious challenges in combination with GH/IGF-I manipulations are another important topic that has not been sufficiently addressed to date, particularly with respect to developmental and environmental influences on fish growth and health.
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