The micro-anatomical changes associated with lordotic and kyphotic vertebral curvatures (VC) in juvenile and adult Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis are described. In addition, it is demonstrated that the tissue and cellular structures of individual vertebrae can be severely affected. Two main conformations were found in deformed juvenile specimens: flattened vertebrae with dorso-ventral compression and trapezoidal vertebrae forming concave and convex sides under compressive and tensile stresses. Histological analyses revealed the occurrence of an ectopic cartilaginous tissue within the acellular bone, both in juveniles and adults, possibly to cope with altered mechanical stress in deformed vertebrae. The results suggest that the alteration in loading to which curved vertebral columns are subjected might trigger vertebral reshaping and differentiation of cells towards this ectopic tissue. In addition, mesenchymal cells appear to play an important role in its formation. It is here proposed that the acellular bone of S. senegalensis is capable of adaptively responding to altered loading regimes at the structural level by reshaping vertebrae and at the micro-anatomical level by recruiting chondrocyte-like cells to areas of altered mechanical stress.
Keywords: adaptations; ectopic cartilage; flatfish; kyphosis; lordosis; vertebral structure.
© 2015 The Fisheries Society of the British Isles.