DAO 64:45-51 (2005)  -  doi:10.3354/dao064045

Histochemistry of glycoconjugates in mucous cells of Salmo trutta uninfected and naturally parasitized with intestinal helminths

G. Bosi, S. Arrighi, A. Di Giancamillo, C. Domeneghini*

Department of Veterinary Sciences and Technologies for Food Safety, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Milan, Via Trentacoste n. 2, 20134 Milan, Italy
*Corresponding author. Email:

ABSTRACT: Mucus secreted onto the surface of the intestine forms a physical barrier to invading parasites so that a possible attachment of helminths to the surface is prevented and their expulsion by peristalsis facilitated. In mammals, intestinal parasites induce hyperplasia and hypertrophy of intestine goblet cells and provoke changes in the mucus composition. In fish, this topic has received less attention. In the present investigation, histochemical methods were employed to compose intestinal mucous cell numbers and their glycoconjugate composition were compared by uninfected brown trout Salmo trutta and in S. trutta parasitized with Cyathocephalus truncatus or Pomphorhynchus laevis. When P. laevis was present in the intestine of the brown trout, the total mucous cell number, and the number of mucous cells containing acid or mixed glycoconjugates were significantly enhanced. No significant change in the total mucous cell number was detected in the intestine of fish parasitized with C. truncatus in comparison with uninfected brown trout. A significant increase was observed in the number of both acid (especially sulphated) and mixed glycoconjugates containing mucous cells as well as a significant decrease in the number of neutral glycoconjugates containing mucous cells. When intestinal helminths were present, the thickness of the adherent mucous gel increased. In a limited number of other fish species, the occurrence of gill and intestinal parasites has been reported to increase the mucosal glycoconjugate secretions. Our study is the first quantitative report on the effects of intestinal helminths on the density of mucous cells and mucus composition in a fish species.

KEY WORDS: Glycoconjugates · Mucus composition · Mucous cell number · Intestinal parasites · Brown trout

Full article in pdf format