Histological and histochemical changes in the digestive tract of white sturgeon larvae during ontogeny

A. Gawlicka, Swee J Teh, S. S O Hung, D. E. Hinton, J. de la Noüe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

100 Scopus citations


Ontogenetic changes in digestive tract histology and digestive enzyme histochemistry were investigated 11 to 36 days post-hatch in white sturgeon Acipenser transmontanus larvae. From initiation of exogenous feeding (12 days post-hatch), larvae were fed a commercial salmonid diet for the ensuing 24 days. The digestive system of white sturgeon displayed a high degree of morphologic organization and functionality at the onset of exogenous feeding. An enhancement of digestive capacities occurred with transition to active feeding. On day 2 of feeding, there was a clear increase of alkaline phosphatase, aminopeptidase M, dipeptidyl peptidase IV, and γ-glutamyl transpeptidase activity in the brush border of the spiral intestine. This strong activity is an apparent confirmation of the importance of this segment of the intestine for protein digestion and nutrient absorption. The functional development of the pyloric intestine occurred on day 4 and was concomitant with an increase in the activity of brush border and cytoplasmic enzymes such as acetylcholinesterase, dipeptidyl peptidase II, α- and β-galactosidases. The absence of acetylcholinesterase, lactase, nonspecific esterase, and weak activity of exopeptidases and alkaline phosphatase in the anterior intestine suggests that this segment of the intestine may be less important in nutrient absorption than the pyloric and spiral intestines. The observed quantitative and qualitative differences in enzyme activity along the intestine indicate a high degree of specialization of each segment for specific digestive and absorptive processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)357-371
Number of pages15
JournalFish Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1995


  • brush border
  • digestive system
  • enzyme histochemistry
  • histology
  • larvae
  • ontogeny
  • sturgeon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Histological and histochemical changes in the digestive tract of white sturgeon larvae during ontogeny'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this