Further characterisation of the immune response of the koala
R. Wilkinson*,a, I. Kotlarskib, M. Bartona
aCentral Veterinary Laboratories (VETLAB), Department of Agriculture, The Institute of Medical and Veterinary Science, Frome Road, Adelaide, S.A., Australia
bDepartment of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, S.A., Australia
Sensitive enzyme immunoassays (EIA) were developed to monitor antibody (Ab) production in the koala, in response to both soluble and particulate antigens (Ag). When compared with a eutherian mammal, the rabbit, both the dynamics and kinetics of Ab production in the koala were found to be severely retarded. In vitro, Ag specific lymphocyte proliferative responses were demonstrated for the first time in this animal by sensitising koalas in vivo with Bacillus Calmet-Guerin (BCG), with the level and timing of this cell mediated immune (CMI) response comparable with those seen in non-metatherian mammals. Levels of circulating B lymphocytes were examined in an attempt to clarify the retarded humoral responses to foreign Ags. In addition, peripheral mononuclear cells (PMC) from koalas, were examined for their reactivity to a range of monoclonal Abs and lectins in an attempt to characterise these cells further. The lectins examined, demonstrated an all or none reactivity with koala lymphocytes and were therefore considered unsuitable as markers for identifying lymphoid subsets in this animal. A monoclonal Ab directed at class II MHC Ags in the mouse, demonstrated cross reactivity with a high percentage of all koala monocytes tested. Using this Ab to probe CMI responses in vitro, it is concluded that immune interactions required for such responses in the koala parallel those seen in other mammals.