Immunoglobulin (Ig) binding patterns of Pacific harbor seals (PHS, Phoca vitulina richardsi) and northern elephant seals (NES, Mirounga angustirostris) to tissues of adult Otostrongylus circumlitus were examined by immunoblotting to investigate the role of age in the unusual response of juvenile NES to infection with O. circumlitus. Serum was taken from NES between March 1997 and March 2001 and from PHS between May 1996 and August 1999. The serum of seals infected with O. circumlitus contained antibodies that bound to all nematode tissues examined. Intensity of band staining on Western blots suggested that there were higher levels of antibody recognizing the excretory-secretory (ES) glands in the serum of NES that were 1 yr and older and in the majority of PHS compared with that in 2- to 9-mo-old NES. All juvenile NES infected with O. circumlitus and a proportion of the PHS and older NES infected with O. circumlitus contained Ig specific to a 28 kDa protein band that was dominant in the female reproductive tract of the nematode. The Ig binding patterns of NES and PHS to adult Parafilaroides sp., larval Pseudoterranova sp., and larval and adult Anisakis sp. differed sufficiently from that of O. circumlitus that immunoblotting for the 28 kDa protein could be useful for diagnosis of this parasite in juvenile NES. The banding patterns suggest that O. circumlitus nematodes die and disintegrate in PHS and NES and that NES of 1 yr and older and most PHS respond differently to the ES glands than 2- to 9-mo-old NES.
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Vol. 40 • No. 3