Human Chorionic Gonadotropin Enhancement of Early Maturation and Consequences for Reproductive Success of Feminized European Eel (Anguilla anguilla)

Palstra, Arjan P.; van de Ven, Ida; Jéhannet, Pauline; Kruijt, Leo; Schipper, Henk; Swinkels, William; Heinsbroek, Leon T.N.


To induce oocyte development, eels are weekly injected with salmon or carp pituitary extract (CPE). The weekly handling and hormone peaks result in inferior oocyte quality; therefore, alternative treatments that improve oocyte quality and reproductive success require investigation. The enhancement of early sexual maturation by a single injection with human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), administered prior to CPE treatment, was investigated. Fifty feminized eels were subjected to simulated migration, after which eels received either a hCG or a sham injection. After two months, the hCG-treated eels showed an increase in eye size, gonadosomatic index (GSI), and plasma 11-ketotestosterone concentration, when compared with the sham-injected controls. The hCG-treated eels showed increases in oocyte diameter and lipid area, and in ovarian expression of aromatase (cyp19), follicle stimulating hormone receptor (fshr) and lipoprotein lipase (lpl). Yolk was present in the oocytes of the hCG-treated eels, not yet in the oocytes of the controls. The hCG-induced deposition of yolk may relate to early-life treatment with 17β-estradiol during feminization. hCG-treated eels required four CPE injections less to mature than the controls. hCG treatment may benefit reproductive success in feminized eels by initiating vitellogenesis and reducing the hypophysation period, although larvae were obtained from most females in both groups.