(1) University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
(2) Marine Biology Center of University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
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In the last decade several studies reinforced the use of sea urchin as a model for immunological purposes due to their phylogenetic proximity to chordates and also due to the diverse immune genes common to vertebrates. Since the year of 2000, the use of sea urchin as bioindicators for environmental stress has been suggested, especially regarding the use of their immune cells, also referred to as coelomocytes. In this critical review, we provide a brief but consistent review covering the most studied topics of the innate immune system of sea urchin emphasizing the use of coelomocytes as biosensors for environmental disorders.
The use of coelomocytes as biomarkers is a very useful and sensitive tool to evaluate marine environmental stress. However the mechanisms by which these conditions lead to an upregulation of coelomocytes, either increasing its number or increasing the proteins or genes expressed by them, are poorly understood. We reinforce that further studies aiming to answer these questions are necessary.