Modulation of cytokine secretion may offer novel approaches in the treatment of a variety of fish diseases. The use of herbal extracts can represent a new strategy for the modulation of cytokine expression. Deeply studied cytokines are interferons (IFNs), which may induce vertebrate cells into an antiviral state. The in vitro research performed in this study demonstrated that an ethanolic extract (1.2 mg/ml) of Aloe arborescens, a plant that is widely used in Korea as ingredient of health food and cosmetics, significantly increased after 48 h of treatment the expression level of the IFN type I in SAF-1 (Sparus aurata fibroblast cell line) cells stimulated with Poly I:C. Moreover, the treatment significantly up-regulated (after 48 h) the expression levels of MHC class I-α and Mx, a protein endowed with antiviral properties, compared with control cells. This work provides a new perspective for the use of medicinal plants in fish to prevent viral diseases. Further studies are in progress to characterize the active principles of the plant extract and to establish feeding protocols for food additives
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