• innate immunity;
  • gut microbiota;
  • probiotics;
  • fish


Although fish immunology has progressed in the last few years, the contribution of the normal endogenous microbiota to the overall health status has been so far underestimated. In this context, the establishment of a normal or protective microbiota constitutes a key component to maintain good health, through competitive exclusion mechanisms, and has implications for the development and maturation of the immune system. The normal microbiota influences the innate immune system, which is of vital importance for the disease resistance of fish and is divided into physical barriers, humoral and cellular components. Innate humoral parameters include antimicrobial peptides, lysozyme, complement components, transferrin, pentraxins, lectins, antiproteases and natural antibodies, whereas nonspecific cytotoxic cells and phagocytes (monocytes/macrophages and neutrophils) constitute innate cellular immune effectors. Cytokines are an integral component of the adaptive and innate immune response, particularly IL-1β, interferon, tumor necrosis factor-α, transforming growth factor-β and several chemokines regulate innate immunity. This review covers the innate immune mechanisms of protection against pathogens, in relation with the installation and composition of the normal endogenous microbiota in fish and its role on health. Knowledge of such interaction may offer novel and useful means designing adequate therapeutic strategies for disease prevention and treatment.