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Keywords:

  • Flavobacterium psychrophilum ;
  • coldwater disease;
  • rainbow trout fry syndrome;
  • lipopolysaccharide;
  • rainbow trout;
  • fish vaccine

Abstract

Control methods for Flavobacterium psychrophilum are limited and oftentimes ineffective; hence, research efforts have focused on vaccine development. This study tested the hypothesis that a crude lipopolysaccharide (LPS) extract from F. psychrophilum will elicit a protective immune response in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss (Walbaum) against F. psychrophilum challenge. Rainbow trout (mean weight, 3 g) were immunized intraperitoneally with the following treatment and control preparations: 10 μg of crude LPS with or without Freund's complete adjuvant (FCA), 25 μg of crude LPS with or without FCA and saline with or without FCA. Immunization of fish with 10 or 25 μg of crude LPS/FCA resulted in significant antibody responses against F. psychrophilum using ELISA with a whole-cell lysate as the coating antigen, but only minimal levels of protection were conferred following F. psychrophilum challenge at 14 weeks post immunization. Western blot analyses demonstrated that fish exhibited antibodies specific for low-molecular mass proteins present in the crude LPS extract, but did not exhibit antibodies specific for F. psychrophilum LPS. The results indicate that higher immunization doses and/or the use of an alternative extraction method that yields larger LPS molecules (23–70 kDa) may be necessary to elicit specific antibody responses against F. psychrophilum LPS.