Springer Nature is making SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 research free. View research | View latest news | Sign up for updates

Effects of external osmolality, calcium and prolactin on growth and differentiation of the epidermal cells of the cichlid teleost Sarotherodon mossambicus

  • 35 Accesses

  • 34 Citations


Osmolality and concentrations of divalent cations calcium, and to a lesser extent magnesium of the water are the main environmental factors that determine development and degree of mucification of the skin epithelium of Sarotherodon mossambicus. Epithelial thickness and number of mucocytes in fish exposed to low (freshwater level) concentrations of calcium and magnesium are directly related to the height of the osmotic gradient between water and blood plasma. No such relationship is found in fish exposed to a high (seawater level) concentration of calcium in the water, irrespective of the height of the osmotic gradient.

The results strongly indicate that the effects of osmolality and divalent cations are indirect, and mediated by prolactin, since administration of ovine or fish prolactin stimulates growth and multiplication of the cells of the basal layer of the epidermis, and promotes the differentiation of the mucocytes.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Ball JN (1970) Prolactin (fish prolactin or paralactin) and growth hormone. In: Hoar WS, Randall DJ (eds) Fish Physiology. Academic Presss, New York, Vol 2, pp 207–240

  2. Benjamin M (1980) A correlation between pituitary and integumentary structure in the nine-spined stickleback, Pungitius pungitius L. Acta Zool (Stockh) 61:105–109

  3. Bern HA (1967) Hormones and endocrine glands of fishes. Science 158:455–462

  4. Blüm, V (1966) Zur hormonalen Steuerung der Brutpflege einiger Cichliden. Zool Jb Physiol 72:264–290

  5. Blüm V, Fiedler K (1972) Der Einfluß von Prolactin und Gonadotropinen auf die Haut einiger Mittelmeerfische. Zool Jb Physiol 76: 324–339

  6. Blüm V, Machemer L, Bartmann WD (1972) Die Wirkung von TSH und LTH auf das Verhalten und auf die Histologie der Haut, der Schilddrüse und der Gonaden beim Pfauenschleimfisch Blennius pavo. Zool Jb Physiol 76:340–355

  7. Clark WC, Bern HA (1978) Comparative endocrinology of prolactin. Li CH (ed), Academic Press, New York, pp 105–177

  8. Ensor DM (1978) Comparative endocrinology of prolactin. London: Chapman and Hall

  9. Evans DH (1975) Ionic exchange mechanisms in fish gills. Comp Biochem Physiol 51A:491–495

  10. Farmer SW, Papkoff H, Bewley TA, Hayashida T, Nishioka RS, Bern HA, Li CH (1977) Isolation and properties of teleost prolactin. Gen Comp Endocrinol 31:60–71

  11. Harris JE, Hunt S (1975) The fine structure of the epidermis of two species of salmonid fish, the Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar L.) and the brown trout (Salmo trutta L.). Cell Tissue Res 163:535–543

  12. Hawkes JW (1974) The structure of fish skin. Cell Tissue Res 149:147–158

  13. Horrobin DF (1980) Prolactin as a regulator of fluid and electrolyte metabolism in mammals. Fed Proc 39:2567–2570

  14. Kah O, Chambolle P, Olivereau M, Dubourg P, Surlève-Bazeille JE (1979) Ultrastructure del'hypophyse de Gambusia sp. (Poisson Téléostéen) in situ et greffée à long terme. Gen Comp Endocrinol 38:253–263

  15. Kirschner LB (1977) External charged layer and Na+ regulation. In: Barker Jörgensen C, Skadhauge E (eds) Osmotic and volume regulation. Munksgaard, Copenhagen New York Tokyo, pp 310–324

  16. Leatherland JF, Lin L (1976) Fine structure of the rostral pars distalis follicle cells in homotransplanted pituitaries of rainbow trout, Salmo gairdneri. Can J Zool 54:122–132

  17. Marshall WS (1976) Effects of hypophysectomy and ovine prolactin on the epithelial mucus-secreting cells of the pacific staghorn sculpin, Leptocottus armatus (Teleostei: Cottidae). Can J Zool 54:1604–1609

  18. Marshall WS (1979) Effects of salinity acclimation, prolactin, growth hormone, and cortisol on the mucous cells of Leptocottus armatus (Teleostei; Cottidae). Gen Comp Endocrinol 37:358–368

  19. Mattheij JAM, Stroband HWJ (1971) The effects of osmotic experiments and prolactin on the mucous cells in the skin and the ionocytes in the gills of the teleost, Cichlasoma biocellatum. Z Zellforsch 121:93–101

  20. Nagahama Y, Nishioka RS, Bern HA (1974) Structure and function of the transplanted pituitary in the seawater goby, Gillichthys mirabilis. I. Rostral pars distalis. Gen Comp Endocrinol 22:21–34

  21. Nicoll CS (1980) Ontogeny and evolution of prolactin's functions. Fed Proc 39:2563–2566

  22. Nicoll CS, Bern HA (1971) On the actions of prolactin among the vertebrates: is there a common denominator? Ciba Foundation Symposium on lactogenic hormones. In: Wolstenholme GEW, Knight J (eds). Churchill-Livingstone, London, pp 299–324

  23. Olivereau M, Ball JN (1966) Histological study of functional ectopic pituitary transplants in a teleost fish (Poecilia formosa). Proc R Soc Ser B 164:106–129

  24. Olivereau M, Lemoine AM (1971) Teneur en acide N-acétyl-neuraminique de la peau chez l'Anguille après autotransplantation de l'hypophyse. Z Vergl Physiol 73:44–52

  25. Rosen MW, Cornford NE (1971) Fluid friction of fish slimes. Nature 234:49–51

  26. Schwerdtfeger WK (1979) Morphometrical studies of the ultrastructure of the epidermis of the guppy, Poecilia reticulata, following adaptation to seawater and treatment with prolactin. Gen Comp Endocrinol 38:476–483

  27. Slijkhuis H (1978) Fanning behaviour and prolactin cell activity in the male stickleback, Gasterosteus aculeatus. In: Gaillard PJ, Boer HH (eds) Comparative Endocrinology. Elsevier/North Holland Medical Press, Amsterdam, pp 191–192

  28. Stanley JG, O'Connell, JK (1970) Effects of hypophysectomy on plasma electrolytes and epidermal mucous cells in the mudminnow, Umbra limi. Am Zool 10:298–299

  29. Wendelaar Bonga SE (1978) The effects of changes in external sodium, calcium, and magnesium concentrations on prolactin cells, skin, and plasma electrolytes of Gasterosteus aculeatus. Gen Comp Endocrinol 34:265–275

  30. Wendelaar Bonga SE, Van der Meij JCA (1980) The effect of ambient calcium on prolactin cell activity and plasma electrolytes in Sarotherodon mossambicus (Tilapia mossambica). Gen Comp Endocrinol 40:391–401

  31. Wendelaar Bonga SE, Van der Meij JCA (1981) Effect of ambient osmolarity and calcium on prolactin cell activity and osmotic water permeability of the gills in the teleost Sarotherodon mossambicus. Gen Comp Endocrinol 43:432–442

  32. Wendelaar Bonga SE, Greven JAA, Mein C (1978) The relationship between external and internal calcium concentrations and prolactin cell activity in a euryhaline teleost. Gen Comp Endocrinol 34:91 (1978)

  33. Whitear M (1970) The skin surface of bony fishes. J Zool Lond 160:437–454

  34. Whitear M (1977) A functional comparison between the epidermis of fish and of amphibians. Symp Zool Soc Lond 39:291–313

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Dr. S. E. Wendelaar Bonga.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Bonga, S.E.W., Meis, S. Effects of external osmolality, calcium and prolactin on growth and differentiation of the epidermal cells of the cichlid teleost Sarotherodon mossambicus . Cell Tissue Res. 221, 109–123 (1981).

Download citation

Key words

  • Teleost epidermis
  • Environmental calcium
  • Environmental osmolality
  • Prolactin
  • Mucus production