Ultrastructure and opsin immunocytochemistry of the pineal complex of the larval Arctic charr Salvelinus alpinus: A comparison with the retina

I. Vigh‐Teichmann, M. A. Ali, A. Szél, B. Vigh

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18 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: The fine structure and opsin immunocytochemistry of the pineal and parapineal organs of the salmonid fish Salvelinus alpinus, the landlocked Arctic charr, were studied and compared with the retina in various developmental stages, from prehatching to two‐month‐old. For opsin immunocytochemistry two polyclonal antibovine rhodopsin and the monoclonal antichicken opsin antibodies OS‐2 (detecting blue and green pigments) and OS‐1 (detecting green and red pigments) were used. Histologically, the pineal organ consists of nervous tissue like that of the retina. It is composed of photoreceptor pinealocytes, which formed axon terminals containing synaptic ribbons, on the dendrites and perikarya of secondary pineal neurons. Already in prehatching embryos, both the pineal and retinal photoreceptors display well‐developed outer segments and form synaptic terminals. The distal part of the pineal organ differentiates earlier than its proximal stalk. The differentiation of the retina starts centrally, but the caudal and dorsal retinae are differentiated earlier than the rostral and ventral ones. At the end of the larval period, the lateral retina is still undifferentiated. In all stages studied, (rhod)opsin immunoreactivity was found in the outer segments of the pineal organ and rod‐type retinal photoreceptors, a finding speaking in favour of the presence of the opsin of a rhodopsin/porphyropsin. Cone‐type retinal photoreceptors identified morphologically in the pre‐ and posthatching stages were opsinimmunonegative with the four primary antisera used. This result suggests that in the charr the opsins of cone visual pigments differ in their chemical nature from those of rhodopsin/porphyropsin. The parapineal organ was opsin immunonegative. Using the monoclonal antibody OS‐2 opsin immunoreactivity was also detected in inner segments, perikarya, and pedicles of rod‐type photoreceptors of both retina and pineal organ of embryos and 1‐ to 4‐day‐old larvae. This may indicate a high level of opsin gene expression during photoreceptor growth around hatching. The well‐developed pineal organ and its opsin content are discussed in connection with the photonegative behaviour of the larval charr.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)196-209
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Pineal Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - May 1991


  • fish (Salmonid)
  • immunogold electron microscopy
  • parapineal organ
  • photoreceptors
  • pineal organ
  • retina
  • rhodopsin/porphyropsin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology

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