Open Access Research article

Inflammatory responses in primary muscle cell cultures in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)

Nicholas J Pooley1, Luca Tacchi12, Christopher J Secombes1 and Samuel AM Martin1*

Author Affiliations

1 Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, University of Aberdeen, Tillydrone Avenue, Aberdeen AB24 2TZ, UK

2 Current address: Centre for Evolutionary and Theoretical Immunology, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Genomics 2013, 14:747  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-14-747

Published: 1 November 2013



The relationship between fish health and muscle growth is critical for continued expansion of the aquaculture industry. The effect of immune stimulation on the expression of genes related to the energy balance of fish is poorly understood. In mammals immune stimulation results in major transcriptional changes in muscle, potentially to allow a reallocation of amino acids for use in the immune response and energy homeostasis. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of immune stimulation on fish muscle gene expression.


Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) primary muscle cell cultures were stimulated with recombinant (r)IL-1β, a major proinflammatory cytokine, for 24 h in order to simulate an acute immune response. The transcriptomic response was determined by RNA hybridization to a 4 × 44 K Agilent Atlantic salmon microarray platform. The rIL-1β stimulation induced the expression of genes related to both the innate and adaptive immune systems. In addition there were highly significant changes in the expression of genes related to regulation of the cell cycle, growth/structural proteins, proteolysis and lipid metabolism. Of interest were a number of IGF binding proteins that were differentially expressed, which may demonstrate cross talk between the growth and immune systems.


We show rIL-1β modulates the expression of not only immune related genes, but also that of genes involved in processes related to growth and metabolism. Co-stimulation of muscle cells with both rIGF-I and rIL-1β demonstrates cross talk between these pathways providing potential avenues for further research. This study highlights the potential negative effects of inflammation on muscle protein deposition and growth in fish and extends our understanding of energy allocation in ectothermic animals.

Transcriptomics; Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar); Muscle cell culture; Inflammation; Catabolism; Cell cycle; IGF binding proteins