BlogSEA CUCUMBERS & IMMUNITY – links to vertebrates

April 15, 2023

The sea cucumber immune system is sophisticated, with elements closely resembling those of modern vertebrates including cellular immunity, defender cells, lectins and cytokines such as interferon and interleukin. The cells of the sea cucumber immune system are housed in lymph node-like tissue lining the throat, and are theorized to be the forerunner of the tonsils, adenoids and thymus¹. It is further theorized that because the immune systems of modern vertebrates evolved from theirs, many of the molecules and strategies used by sea cucumbers also work for humans and animals².


  1. Smith AC. A proposed phylogenetic relationship between sea cucumber polian vesicles and the vertebral lymphoreticular system. J Invert Path 1978;31:353-357.
  2. Provided courtesy of Dr. George Gillson, M.D., PhD. Serendipity and Sea Cucumbers.