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The innate immune system is the only defence weapon of invertebrates and a fundamental defence mechanism of fish. The innate system also plays an instructive role in the acquired immune response and homeostasis and is therefore equally important in higher vertebrates.
The innate immune system is divided into physical barriers, cellular and humoral components. Humoral parameters include growth inhibitors, various lytic enzymes and components of the complement pathways, agglutinins and precipitins (opsonins, primarily lectins), natural antibodies, cytokines, chemokines and antibacterial peptides. Several external and internal factors can influence the activity of innate immune parameters. Temperature changes, handling and crowding stress can have suppressive effects on innate parameters, whereas several food additives and immunostimulants can enhance different innate factors.