Cytokine analisys in atlantic bottlenose dolphins: molecular characterization of IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10

Document Type



Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor's Name

Charles Bigger

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Joel Trexler

Third Advisor's Name

Victor Apanias

Fourth Advisor's Name

Sylvia Smith

Fifth Advisor's Name

Jerry Bash

Date of Defense



The health status of wild and captive Atlantic Bottlenose dolphins (Tersiops truncatis) is difficult to ascertain. Mass strandings of these animals have been attributed to pollutants, as well as bacterial infections. Using human Enzyme Linked Immuno-Assays (ELISA) for immunological cytokines, I measured soluble cytokine levels with respect to their health status. In a retrospective analysis of dolphin sera, there was a trend of higher cytokine levels in “sick” animals. I cultured dolphin lymphocytes in the presence of a mitogen (PHA), a super antigen (Staph-A), Lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and a calcium flux inducer (PMA). Levels of messenger RNA, from these cultured cells, were assayed with Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) using primers for the human cytokines IL-2, EL-4, IL- 6, IL-10, Tumor Necrosis Factor, and Interferon gamma. Only IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 messages were obtained, inferring similar nucleotide homology to the human primer sequences. The PCR products were sequenced. Sixteen IL-4 sequences, twelve IL-6 sequences and seven IL-10 sequences were obtained and analyzed. Each cytokine exhibited the same nucleotide sequence in all dolphins examined. There was no difference in the cytokine profile in response to the various stimuli. The derived amino acid composition for each of the dolphin cytokines was used for molecular modeling, which showed that dolphin IL-4, IL-6, and IL-10 were structurally similar to the corresponding proteins of Perissodactyla.



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