The neuroepithelial cells of the fish gill filament: Indolamine-immunocytochemistry and innervation
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The neuroepithelial cells (NECs) of the fish gill filament share several morphofunctional features with the cells of the neuroepithelial bodies in the lungs of air-breathing vertebrates. In the present study, a detailed indolamine-immunocytochemical analysis of the branchial neuroepithelial cells and nerves was undertaken in non-teleost and teleost species, with particular emphasis on the latter. In the rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss, the chemical degeneration of either catecholaminergic (by 5- and 6-hydroxydopamines) or indolaminergic (by 5,6-dihydroxy-tryptamine) innervations associated with the NECs was studied using electron microscopy. In teleosts, the NECs are located primarily on the distal half of the filament. In the trout particularly, these cells are innervated mainly by non-indolaminergic nerves taking up sympathetic neurotoxins. The proximal half of the filament contains isolated NECs innervated additionally by intrinsic indolaminergic neurons. Serotonin-like immunoreactivity of the NECs is evident in the granular vesicles packed within the basal soma and processes which surround non-vascular and vascular smooth muscles in the filament. Apical processes from the neuroepithelial cells occasionally contact the water on the surface of the filament epithelium. The secretory function of the NECs is discussed with reference to the probable involvement of serotonin in the modulation of fish gill function. In addition, their connections with both central and branchial nervous systems suggest a possible chemoreceptor role.
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