Send to

Choose Destination
Histol Histopathol. 1992 Jul;7(3):501-28.

The phylogenetic odyssey of the erythrocyte. III. Fish, the lower vertebrate experience.

Author information

Department of Anatomical Sciences, School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York, Buffalo 14214.


The piscine erythrocyte can be considered the prototype of the red cells that are distributed among inframmalian vertebrates. It is a permanently nucleated, hemoglobin-ladened, oval, flattened, biconvex disc. Ultrastructurally it demonstrates a cytoskeleton comprised of a marginal band and a membrane skeleton which are responsible for the erythrocyte's conversion to an ellipsoid during morphogenesis and endow it with resilience to physical trauma. Erythropoiesis initiates in the yolk sac, followed in many fishes, by the intermediate cell mass. These sites are the sources of the transitory, primitive generation red cells which apparently make their first phylogenetic appearance in fishes and which are subsequently represented in all classes of vertebrates including mammals. Production of definitive generation erythrocytes is centered in evolutionary "pre-splenic" tissue of the gastrointestinal tract or in the spleen in cyclostomes, dipnoi, and chondrichthyes while in teleosts it is typically located in the kidneys with or without splenic participation. The blood is a major site of erythrocyte maturation in the lower fishes and exhibits significant numbers of immature erythroid cells plus occasional mitotic figures. Some teleosts also circulate developing erythroid cells. Certain fishes have occasional circulating erythroplastids, conceptually a portent of phylogenetic changes in higher vertebrates. Remarkably, some bristlemouths have denucleated erythrocytes exclusively in the circulation. The largest piscine erythrocytes are found in the dipnoi, myxines, and chondrichthyes. Primitive fish with the exception of the endothermic sharks tend to have lower hemoglobin concentrations than the modern teleosteans. The very highest hemoglobin concentrations are attained by the endothermic scombrids. Erythrocyte-based data have a broad extent and are variably affected by age, sex, season and environment. This report includes a substantial selection of illustrations (fish species and rbc micrographs).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center