An autofluorescence-based survey of late follicular atresia in ovaries of a teleost fish (Thunnus thynnus)
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SourceJournal of Fish Biology 2021;1–8.
In this study, the authors examined late atretic follicles in the ovaries of Atlantic bluefin tuna, Thunnus thynnus (Linn AE us 1758), at different times of the year using transmitted light and epifluorescence microscopy. Atresia (degeneration and resorption of developing ovarian follicles) is a natural process involved in fecundity downregulation in teleosts and is substantially enhanced in stressful conditions. Early (alpha and beta) atretic stages of yolked oocytes have a relatively short duration in seasonally reproducing species, whereas later (gamma and delta) atretic follicles (LAF) persist for longer time in the ovary, serving as a sign of previous vitellogenic activity. LAF can thus be used as reliable markers of maturity during non-reproductive periods. Lipofuscin granules accumulate in the cytoplasm of LAF cells as a result of lysosomal digestion of oocyte components. Taking advantage of the well-known autofluorescent properties of lipofuscins, LAF may be identified in unstained histological sections under fluorescence microscopy using appropriate excitation and emission wavelengths. The authors explore in this study the applicability of fluorescence microscopy to provide a fast and effective method to assess late atresia in fishes. This method may be particularly useful to determine sexual maturity in individuals sampled long after the spawning season, where LAF are difficult to detect in standard histological sections. Furthermore, LAF autofluorescence provides a rapid way to quantify late atresia in fishes using image analysis.