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Quantitative analysis of estradiol-17β-induced changes in the ultrastructure of the liver of the male zebrafish, Brachydanio rerio


Hepatocytes of male zebrafish, Brachydanio rerio, were studied by means of light- and electron-microscopy, following a period of maximally 16 days of in-vivo treatment with estradiol-17β. The responsiveness of the male hepatocytes to this female sex steroid was investigated by use of morphometric methods. The results of this investigation show that the responsiveness was most obvious between 2 and 16 days, as revealed by an increase in cell size, accompanied by a proliferation of the granular endoplasmic reticulum and the Golgi complex. In addition, accumulations of glycogen granules, which are characteristic of hepatocytes in untreated males, had disappeared and lipid droplets had accumulated. These experimentally induced changes in the morphology of the male hepatocyte closely resemble those described for the female hepatocyte during the sexual cycle. It is concluded that the hepatocytes of male zebrafish can be stimulated by estradiol-17β to produce vitellogenin and that in female zebrafish this steroid is a key sex hormone responsible for vitellogenin production by the liver during the natural sexual cycle.

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Correspondence to Dr. J. Peute.

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Peute, J., Huiskamp, R. & van Oordt, P.G.W.J. Quantitative analysis of estradiol-17β-induced changes in the ultrastructure of the liver of the male zebrafish, Brachydanio rerio . Cell Tissue Res. 242, 377–382 (1985).

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Key words

  • Liver
  • Hepatocytes
  • Ultrastructure
  • Estradiol
  • Vitellogenesis
  • Teleosts