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Eels were adapted to black- or white-coloured backgrounds and the pituitary glands were prepared for light and electron microscopy. Immunocytochemical staining was used to study the distribution of the neurohypophysial melanin-concentrating hormone in the neurointermediate lobe. The hormone was located in small, elliptical, electron-opaque neurosecretory granules, measuring approximately 120 x 90 nm. The neurones terminated on blood vessels in the centre of the neurohypophysis and on the basement membrane separating neural and intermediate lobe tissues. The results of both light and electron immunocytochemistry and of radioimmunoassay are consistent with a higher rate of hormone release from eels adapted to white backgrounds than from those adapted to black backgrounds. In addition to this, when fish that had been adapted to white tanks were transferred to black tanks, there was an accumulation of irMCH in the gland and an increased numerical density of secretory granules at nerve terminals. These results reinforce the proposal that MCH is released during adaptation to a white background, to cause melanin concentration and to inhibit MSH release, and that its release is halted in black-adapted fish.

Original publication




Journal article


Cell Tissue Res

Publication Date





433 - 439


Adaptation, Biological, Animals, Color, Cytoplasmic Granules, Eels, Hypothalamic Hormones, Melanins, Microscopy, Electron, Nerve Endings, Pituitary Gland, Pituitary Hormones