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Thyroid and pituitary gland development from hatching through metamorphosis of a teleost flatfish, the Atlantic halibut

Journal article
Authors Ingibjörg Einarsdottir
N. Silva
D. M. Power
H. Smaradottir
Björn Thrandur Björnsson
Published in Anatomy and Embryology
Volume 211
Issue 1
Pages 47-60
ISSN 0340-2061
Publication year 2006
Published at Department of Zoology
Pages 47-60
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00429-005-0055-...
Keywords flatfish, pituitary, thyroid, metamorphosis, hippoglossus hippoglossus, bream sparus-aurata, flounder paralichthys-olivaceus, hippoglossus-hippoglossus l., trout oncorhynchus-mykiss, growth-hormone, rainbow-trout, immunoreactive somatolactin, chronological appearance, adenohypophyseal cells, brain-development
Subject categories Biological Sciences

Abstract

Fish larval development, not least the spectacular process of flatfish metamorphosis, appears to be under complex endocrine control, many aspects of which are still not fully elucidated. In order to obtain data on the functional development of two major endocrine glands, the pituitary and the thyroid, during flatfish metamorphosis, histology, immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization techniques were applied on larvae of the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus), a large, marine flatfish species, from hatching through metamorphosis. The material was obtained from a commercial hatchery. Larval age is defined as day-degrees (D degrees=accumulated daily temperature from hatching). Sporadic thyroid follicles are first detected in larvae at 142 D degrees (27 days post-hatch), prior to the completion of yolk sack absorption. Both the number and activity of the follicles increase markedly after yolk sack absorption and continue to do so during subsequent development. The larval triiodothyronine (T-3) and thyroxine (T-4) content increases, subsequent to yolk absorption, and coincides with the proliferation of thyroid follicles. A second increase of both T-3 and T-4 occurs around the start of metamorphosis and the T-3 content further increases at the metamorphic climax. Overall, the T-3 content is lower than T-4. The pituitary gland can first be distinguished as a separate organ at the yolk sack stage. During subsequent development, the gland becomes more elongated and differentiates into neurohypophysis (NH), pars distalis (PD) and pars intermedia (PI). The first sporadic endocrine pituitary cells are observed at the yolk sack stage, somatotrophs (growth hormone producing cells) and somatolactotrophs (somatolactin producing cells) are first observed at 121 D degrees (23 days post-hatch), and lactotrophs (prolactin producing cells) at 134 D degrees (25 days post-hatch). Scarce thyrotrophs are evident after detection of the first thyroid follicles (142 D degrees), but coincident with a phase in which follicle number and activity increase (260 D degrees). The somatotrophs are clustered in the medium ventral region of the PD, lactotrophs in the anterior part of the PD and somatolactotrophs are scattered in the mid and posterior region of the pituitary. At around 600 D degrees, coinciding with the start of metamorphosis, somatolactotrophs are restricted to the interdigitating tissue of the NH. During larval development, the pituitary endocrine cells become more numerous. The present data on thyroid development support the notion that thyroid hormones may play a significant role in Atlantic halibut metamorphosis. The time of appearance and the subsequent proliferation of pituitary somatotrophs, lactotrophs, somatolactotrophs and thyrotrophs indicate at which stages of larval development and metamorphosis these endocrine cells may start to play active regulatory roles.

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