The greater amberjack Seriola dumerili is a new aquaculture fish that may display reproductive dysfunctions. During extensive follicular atresia, which is a common reproductive dysfunction in females during vitellogenesis, part of the reabsorbed yolk returns to the liver to be metabolized and recycled. Melanomacrophage centres (MMCs) are aggregates of macrophage-like cells that play a role in the destruction, detoxification and recycling of endogenous and exogenous materials, and have been associated with systemic stress. Wild and captive-reared greater amberjack were sampled in the Mediterranean Sea during two different phases of the reproductive cycle. The liver of reproductively dysfunctional captive-reared females sampled during the spawning season showed a high density of both MMCs and apoptotic cells. A weak liver anti-cytochrome P450 monooxygenase 1A immunoreactivity was observed, suggesting that the examined fish were not exposed to environmental pollutants. We propose that the observed increase in MMCs and apoptosis in captive-reared fish was related to the hepatic overload associated to the metabolism of yolk proteins reabsorbed during extensive follicular atresia. Since follicular atresia is a frequent physiological and pathological event in teleosts, we suggest that the reproductive state should be always assessed when MMCs are used as markers of exposure to stress or pollutants.
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