Aarhus Universitets segl

Histological mucous cell quantification and mucosal mapping reveal different aspects of mucous cell responses in gills and skin of shorthorn sculpins (Myoxocephalus scorpius)

New publication by Mai Dang, Karin Pittman, Christian Sonne, Sophia Hansson, Lis Bach, Jens Søndergaard, Megan Stride, Barbara Nowak


In teleosts, the mucosal epithelial barriers represent the first line of defence against environmental challenges such as pathogens and environmental contaminants. Mucous cells (MCs) are specialised cells providing this protection through mucus production. Therefore, a better understanding of various MC quantification methods is critical to interpret MC responses. Here, we compare histological (also called traditional) quantification of MCs with a novel mucosal mapping method to understand the differences between the two methods' assessment of MC responses to parasitic infections and pollution exposure in shorthorn sculpins (Myoxocephalus scorpius). Overall, both methods distinguished between the fish from stations with different levels of pollutants and detected the links between MC responses and parasitic infection. Traditional quantification showed relationship between MC size and body size of the fish whereas mucosal mapping detected a link between MC responses and Pb level in liver. While traditional method gave numerical density, mucosal mapping gave volumetric density of the mucous cells in the mucosa. Both methods differentiated MC population in skin from those in the gills, but only mucosal mapping pointed out the consistent differences between filament and lamellar MC populations within the gills. Given the importance of mucosal barriers in fish, a better understanding of various MC quantification methods and the linkages between MC responses, somatic health and environmental stressors is highly valuable.