Host stress physiology and Trypanosoma haemoparasite infection influence innate immunity in the woylie (Bettongia penicillata)

Stephanie Hing, Andrew Currie, Steven Broomfield, Sarah Keatley, Krista Jones, R. C. Andrew Thompson, Edward Narayan, Stephanie S. Godfrey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Understanding immune function is critical to conserving wildlife in view of infectious disease threats, particularly in threatened species vulnerable to stress, immunocompromise and infection. However, few studies examine stress, immune function and infection in wildlife. We used a flow cytometry protocol developed for human infants to assess phagocytosis, a key component of innate immunity, in a critically endangered marsupial, the woylie (Bettongia penicillata). The effects of stress physiology and Trypanosoma infection on phagocytosis were investigated. Blood and faecal samples were collected from woylies in a captive facility over three months. Trypanosoma status was determined using PCR. Faecal cortisol metabolites (FCM) were quantified by enzyme-immunoassay. Mean phagocytosis measured was >90%. An interaction between sex and FCM influenced the percentage of phagocytosing leukocytes, possibly reflecting the influence of sex hormones and glucocorticoids. An interaction between Trypanosoma status and FCM influenced phagocytosis index, suggesting that stress physiology and infection status influence innate immunity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-39
Number of pages8
JournalComparative Immunology, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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