Evidence for a relationship between bovine erythrocyte lipid membrane peculiarities and immune pressure from ruminal ciliates

Department of Microbiology, Parasitology and Immunology, School of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, Paraguay 2155, piso 13, C1121ABG Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology (Impact Factor: 1.54). 11/2007; 119(3-4):171-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2007.05.012
Source: PubMed


Erythrocytes of bovines and other ruminants have a strikingly anomalous phospholipid composition, with low or absent phosphatidylcholine (PC) together with high sphingomyelin (SM) content. Here, we report the presence in normal bovine serum of high levels of anti-phospholipid antibodies of IgM isotype against, PC and the phosphono analogue of phosphatidylethanolamine, aminoethylphosphonolipid (AEPL), normally produced by rumen ciliates. In contrast, no antibodies were detected against SM or N-acyl-phosphatidylethanolamine (NAPE), the major components of bovine erythrocytes. In addition, we found that exposure of the ciliate Tetrahymena thermophila to bovine serum results in rapid lysis, an effect that was inhibited by adsorption of the serum with SM/AEPL liposomes. Furthermore, incubation with bovine serum had a similar effect on freshly obtained ruminal ciliates, and the lytic activity was eliminated by pre-adsorption of the serum with SM/PE liposomes. The ruminant mode of life with its concomitant ciliate fauna is hereby linked to the peculiar conformation of bovine erythrocyte membranes. We propose that the unique phospholipid composition of bovine erythrocytes appears as an evolutionary adaptation to tolerate the lytic effects of anti-phospholipid antibodies generated against AEPL, a membrane component of the huge mass of ruminal ciliates, necessary commensals of this group of mammals.

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