Histological structure of the digestive tract and digestive enzymatic activity of juvenile Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens)
The histological structure, histochemical features, and enzymatic activity of the digestive tract of juvenile Pacific seahorse (Hippocampus ingens) are described to provide information during the cultivation of this species. Serial histological sections were stained with either hematoxylin-eosin, alcian blue-PAS, toluidine blue, Sudan black, Masson's trichome, and ninhydrin-Schiff to describe the general features and the presence of glycogen, mucopolysaccharides, lipids, muscle layers, and proteins, respectively. The enterocytes height and the mucosal villi height in the esophagus and intestines were measured. Additionally, the digestive enzymes trypsin, chymotrypsin, lipase, amylase, aminopeptidase, acid phosphatase, and alkaline phosphatase activities were recorded. The esophagus showed two distinctive regions, the anterior with numerous mucous cells secreting acid mucins and the posterior with longitudinal folds and no mucous cells. The intestine was differentiated into three regions. The anterior showed goblet cells secreting acid and neutral mucins, while the middle and posterior regions presented goblet cells secreting only acid mucins. The activity of aminopeptidase, chymotrypsin, and amylase showed low levels, while the trypsin and acid phosphatase activity levels were intermediate. Lipase and alkaline phosphatase showed the highest activities. The results point that juvenile H. ingens presents a digestive structure similar to other teleost species. The high levels of lipase suggest that juvenile H. ingens have high requirements for lipids during this stage.