Metamorphosis of summer flounder, Paralichthys dentatus: Cell proliferation and differentiation of the gastric mucosa and developmental effects of altered thyroidal status

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Summer flounder, like most marine fishes studied to date, are stomachless at first feeding, and subsequently acquire gastric function during the process of metamorphosis. Stomach formation is controlled largely by thyroxine (T4). In the present work we sought to understand gastric organogenesis in terms of cell proliferation and its relationship to histological differentiation. The objectives of the study were (1) to obtain a developmental pattern of cell proliferation in the gastric mucosa and to relate that pattern to the progress of gastric differentiation; and (2) to understand the regulatory role of T4 on cell proliferation and histological differentiation by altering the thyroidal status of the developing larvae. We observed that (1) in normally developing larvae, cell proliferation increased by early metamorphic climax (MC), remained high until mid-MC, and decreased to basal levels by late MC; concomitantly, the gastric glands appeared and differentiated in the fundic mucosa, and were complete by late MC; (2) T4 accelerated the differentiation of gastric glands and mucus neck cells, while inhibiting the concomitant increase in cell proliferation observed in controls; and (3) the goitrogen thiourea inhibited both cell proliferation and gastric differentiation compared to controls. These results indicate that T4 is necessary for the three-fold increase in cell proliferation that occurs in early metamorphic climax, but that high T4 levels promote differentiation at the expense of proliferation. The observed effects would be consistent with the normal, metamorphosis-related increase in whole body T4. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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Journal of Experimental Zoology