Age-dependent changes in the response of the stomach to thyroidal signaling in developmentally arrested larval summer flounder

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Thyroid-dependent stomach development occurs between approximately 35 and 50 days post-hatch (dph) in laboratory-reared summer flounder larvae. The process can be blocked by thiourea (TU), and TU effects are reversed by exogenous thyroxine (T4). To establish whether a window of sensitivity exists for T4-dependent gastric development, we arrested development of larvae with 0.39mM TU given from 26 to 61dph, and measured weekly the developmental response of the stomach to 13nM T4 for 0, 2, or 7 days. We examined cell proliferation in surface epithelium, gastric glands, and connective tissue, pepsinogen immunoreactivity in gastric glands, and Ulex Europaeus I (UEA I) lectin staining of gastric mucous neck cells, indicative of mucous content. In 26-47dph larvae, cell proliferation was increased 5- to 10-fold in all cell types after 2 days in T4, and returned to pretreatment values by 7 days of treatment. In 54dph fish, however, the proliferative response of gastric gland and surface epithelial cells decreased significantly from that of younger fish, while that of connective tissue was unchanged. For the differentiation markers, T4-induced mucous content increased at 54dph, but not in older fish, while pepsinogen induction was not different at any of the ages tested. The age interval between 47 and 54dph corresponds with the completion of gastric development in spontaneously metamorphosing larvae. The findings suggest that a critical window exists for the mitogenic actions of T4 in epithelial cells, but not for connective tissue cells, whereas no critical period was found for markers of differentiation. © 2003 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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General and Comparative Endocrinology