Comparative Biochemistry And Physiology. Part A, Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Cetaceans exhibit physiological adaptations that allowed the transition to aquatic life, including a robust antioxidant defense system that prevents injury from repeated exposure to ischemia/reperfusion events associated with breath-hold diving. The signaling cascades that characterize ischemic inflammation in humans are well characterized. In contrast, cetaceans’ molecular and biochemical mechanisms that confer tolerance to inflammatory events are poorly understood. Heme oxygenase (HO) is a cytoprotective protein with anti-inflammatory properties. HO catalyzes the first step in the oxidative degradation of heme. The inducible HO-1 isoform is regulated by various stimuli, including hypoxia, oxidant stress, and inflammatory cytokines. The objective of this study was to compare the response of HO-1 and cytokines to a proinflammatory challenge in leukocytes isolated from humans and bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus). We measured changes in HO activity, and abundance and expression of interleukin 1 beta (IL-1β), interleukin 6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), and heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX1) in leukocytes treated with lipopolysaccharide (LPS) for 24 and 48 h. HO activity increased (p < 0.05) in dolphin (48 h) but not human cells. TNF-α expression increased in human (24 h, 48 h), but not dolphin cells following LPS stimulation. LPS-induced cytokine expression was lower in dolphin than in human leukocytes, suggesting a blunted cytokine response in bottlenose dolphin leukocytes treated with LPS. Results suggest species-specific regulation of inflammatory cytokines in leukocytes treated with LPS, which may lead to differential responses to a pro-inflammatory challenge between marine and terrestrial mammals.