In order to better understand the endocrine aberrations related to abnormal metamorphic pigmentation that appear in flounder larvae reared in tanks, this study examined the effects of continuous 24-h illumination (LL) through larval development on the expression of tyrosine hydroxylase-1 (th1), proopiomelanocortin (pomc), α-melanophore-stimulating hormone (α-MSH) and melanin concentrating hormone (MCH), which are known to participate in the control of background adaptation of body color. We observed two conspicuous deviations in the endocrine system under LL when compared with natural light conditions (LD). First, LL severely suppressed th1 expression in the dopaminergic neurons in the anterior diencephalon, including the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). Second, pomc and α-MSH expression in the pars intermedia melanotrophs was enhanced by LL. Skin color was paler under LL than LD before metamorphic pigmentation, and abnormal metamorphic pigmentation occurred at a higher ratio in LL. We therefore hypothesize that continuous LL inhibited dopamine synthesis in the SCN, which resulted in up-regulation of pomc mRNA expression in the melanotrophs. In spite of the up-regulation of pomc in the melanotrophs, larval skin was adjusted to be pale by MCH which was not affected by LL. Accumulation of α-MSH in the melanotrophs is caused by uncoupling of α-MSH synthesis and secretion due to inhibitory role of MCH on α-MSH secretion, which results in abnormal metamorphic pigmentation by affecting differentiation of adult-type melanophores. Our data demonstrate that continuous illumination at the post-embryonic stage has negative effects on the neuroendocrine system and pituitary in flounder.
- Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN)
- Tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)
- α-Melanophore-stimulating hormone (α-MSH)