Lake charr (Salvelinus namaycush) clotting response may act as a plasma biomarker of sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) parasitism: Implications for management and wound assessment

Bullingham, Oliver MN, et al. “Lake charr (Salvelinus namaycush) clotting response may act as a plasma biomarker of sea lamprey (Petromyzon marinus) parasitism: implications for management and wound assessment.” Journal of Great Lakes Research 48.1 (2022): 207-218.


Sea lampreys (Petromyzon marinus) have decimated the Great Lakes fisheries over the past century, and their control is central to protecting native fish populations. Wounding data collected from host fish, including classifying wounds as Type A (penetrating the integument) or Type B (superficial), is an integral part of sea lamprey monitoring efforts and helps inform management decisions; however, wound assessment is subjective and error-prone. This study aimed to determine if protein biomarkers of parasitism could be quantified in host fish plasma to serve as a potential objective aide in current wound assessment practices. Male siscowet lake charr (Salvelinus namaycush) were parasitized in a lab setting for four days, after which the sea lamprey was removed, host blood was collected, and the wound Type recorded. A second blood sample was collected from host fish with Type A wounds 7 months later. The plasma proteome was quantified using iTRAQ, and the relative abundances of 169 proteins were compared between parasitized and non-parasitized control fish. Three functional classes of proteins were modified by sea lamprey parasitism: immune response, lipid transport, and blood coagulation. A major finding was evidence of a concerted anticoagulation response in fish with Type A wounds, including changes in protein components and regulators of fibrin clot formation, some of which did not fully recover within 7 months. A modified clotting assay yielded a smaller thrombin-induced fibrin clot from parasitized fish, supporting the proteomic results. Therefore, measuring blood clottability could improve sea lamprey damage estimates by providing a more objective and quantitative index of parasitism than is offered by wounding data alone.