Pituitary, thyroid gland and gonads in leptocephali of Japanese eel Anguilla japonica (19.8-32.6 mm in total length), A. obscura (45.0 mm), and A. bicolor pacifica (49.5 mm) and those in glass eels of the Japanese eel were histologically and immunohistochemically examined in order to observe the developmental changes of these endocrine organs in the Anguillidae. The pituitary, consisting of adenohypophysis and neurohypophysis in Japanese eel leptocephali over 22.5 mm, did not contain thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) immunoreactive cells. Such cells were, however, detectable in the more developed pituitaries of leptocephali of A. obscura and A. bicolor pacifica and in those of glass eels. Conversely, thyroxine (T4)-immunoreactive thyroid follicles could be detected in all specimens, both leptocephalic and glass eel. Only in glass eels, gonads were found in the body cavity, and these gonads harbored one or two primordial germ cells (PGC) per cross-section. Our results indicate that thyroid hormones (TH) production started prior to TSH production, and that TSH and TH are both secreted during the metamorphosis from leptocephalus to glass eel. Therefore, it is plausible that the TSH-TH axis is involved in the metamorphosis from leptocephalus to glass eel, but not in the early growth from preleptocephalus to leptocephalus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Aquatic Science