An application of histological technique for monitoring health status of fish species, Leuciscus aspius (Linnaeus, 1758) inhabiting Aras River, Iran

Document Type : Research Paper


Department of Biology, Faculty of Sciences, Atatürk University, 25240 Erzurum, Turkey


Aras River and its reservoir play an important role in fisheries and water supplies in the northwest of Iran. It is considered that the river water is polluted by various anthropogenic activities. This study was performed to determine the histopathologic effects of water pollution on a fish species, Leuciscus aspius inhabiting the river. In July 2015, the fish were caught in two different stations of Aras River in Poldasht, Iran. The histopathological abnormalities were detected microscopically and evaluated with quantitative analyses in three organs of the fish. Hypertrophy, filament dilatation, lamellar epithelial liftings, thickening of filament, especially curve, a decrease of the mean length, necrosis, fusion, and lifting in lamellae were observed in gills. Main histopathological abnormalities in the liver were non-homogenous parenchyma, the proliferation of hepatopancreas, congestion, and degeneration of central vein, increasing melanomacrophage aggregates, and sinusoidal dilations. The observed changes in kidney included the degenerations of renal tubules, increasing melanomacrophage aggregates, pyknotic nuclei and vacuolization in proximal and distal tubule epithelial cells, and lymphocyte infiltration in renal parenchyma. It was found that the frequencies of the histological lesions were higher  in the liver in comparison with other organs. It was concluded that the increased  histopathological alteration in the fish tissues may be related to the presence and elevated  toxic contaminants in the river.


Aazami J & Taban P 2018, Monitoring of heavy metals in water, sediment, and phragmites australis of Aras river along the Iranian-Armenian border. Iranian Journal of Toxicology, 12(2): 1-6.
Abdel-Moneim, AM, Al-Kahtani, MA & Elmenshawy, OM 2012, Histopathological biomarkers in gills and liver of Oreochromis niloticus from polluted wetland environments, Saudi Arabia. Chemosphere, 88(8): 1028-1035.
Alazemi, BM, Lewis JW & Andrews, EB 1996, Gill damage in the freshwater fish, Gnathonemus ptersii (Family: Mormyridae) exposed to selected pollutants: an ultrastructural study. Environmental Technology, 17: 225-238
Amiri, S, Vahabzadeh Roudsari, H & Kazemi, R 2011, Histopathological studies on gill tissue of Caspian vimba (Vimba vimba persa) from Caspian Sea and Sefidrud River, Iran. In Proceedings of International Conference on Chemical, Ecology and Environmental Sciences, ICCEES.
Camargo, MM & Martinez, CB 2007, Histopathology of gills, kidney, and liver of a Neotropical fish caged in an urban stream. Neotropical Ichthyology, 5(3): 327-336.
Dane, H & Şişman, T 2017, A histopathological study on the freshwater fish species chub (Squalius cephalus) in the Karasu River, Turkey. Turkish Journal of Zoology, 41: 1-11.
Dane, H & Şi̇şman, T 2020a, A morpho-histopathological study in the digestive tract of three fish species influenced with heavy metal pollution. Chemosphere242, 125212.
Dane, H & Şi̇şman, T 2020b, Effects of heavy metal pollution on hepatosomatic ındex and vital organ histology in Alburnus mossulensis from Karasu River. Turkish Journal of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, 44. DOI:10.3906/vet-1904-50
Falahatkar, B & Tolouei Gilani, MH 2013, Use of laparoscopy for sex identification of asp, Aspius aspiusNorth American Journal of Fisheries Management, 33: 894-899.
Farsani, MN, Haghparast, RJ, Naserabad, SS, Moghadas, F, Bagheri, T & Gerami, MH 2019, Seasonal heavy metal monitoring of water, sediment and common carp (Cyprinus carpio) in Aras Dam Lake of Iran. International Journal of Aquatic Biology7: 123-131.
Fateai, E, Mosavi, S & Imani, AA 2012, Identification of anthropogenic influences on water quality of Aras river by multivariate statistical techniques. In 2nd International Conference on Biotechnology and Environment Management IPCBEE, 42: 35-39.
Fernandes, MN & Mazon, AF 2003, Environmental pollution and fish gill morphology. In: Val, AL; Kapoor BG(Eds.), pp. 203-231. Fish adaptations.Enfield, Science Publishers.
Güler, Ç & Çobanoğlu, Z 1994, Su Kirliliği. Çevre Sağlığı Temel Kaynaklar Dizisi No:12, Ankara. Aydoğdu Ofset, 112 p. (In Turkish).
Ikisa, KG, Babatunde, BB & Hart, AI 2019, Histopathological variations in gills, liver and kidney of Nile tilapia-Oreochromis niloticus exposed to benzalkoniumbhloride mixture with treated produced water. Journal of Applied Sciences and Environmental Management, 23: 1181-1187.
Javadinejad, H, Kavianpour, MR, Boodaghpour, S & Pirouz, B 2014, Survey of pollution resources and impacts on Aras River in East Azerbaijan province. First National Conference on New Horizons in Sustainable Development, Architecture, Construction, Tourism, Energy, and Environment in Urban and Rural areas, 2014, Hamadan, Iran. p. 32.
Liebel, S, Tomotake, MEM & Ribeiro, CAO 2013, Fish histopathology as a biomarker to evaluate water quality. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Contamination, 8: 09-15.
Łuczyńska, J, Paszczyk, B & Łuczyński, MJ 2018, Fish as a bioindicator of heavy metals pollution in the aquatic ecosystem of Pluszne Lake, Poland, and risk assessment for consumer's health. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, 153: 60-67.
Martinez-Haro, M, Beiras, R, Bellas, J, Capela, R, Coelho, JP, Lopes, I, Moreira-Santos, M, Reis-Henriques, M, Ribeiro, R, Santos, MM & Marques, JC 2015, A review on the ecological quality status assessment in aquatic systems using community-based indicators and ecotoxicological tools: what might be the added value of their combination? Ecological Indicators, 48: 8-16.
Mataqueiro, MI, Nakaghi, LS, O, De Souza, JP, Cruz, CD, De Oliveira, GH & Urbinati, EC 2009, Histopathological changes in the gill, liver and kidney of pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus, Holmberg, 1887) exposed to various concentrations of trichlorfon. Journal of Applied Ichthyology, 25: 124-127.
Mohebbi, F, Riahi, H, Sheidai, M & Shariatmadari, Z 2016, Phytoplankton of Aras dam reservoir (Iran): An attempt to assess water quality. Iranian Journal of Fisheries Sciences, 15: 1318-1336.  
Naeemi, A, Jamili S, Shabanipour N, Mashinchian Moradi A & Shariati S 2013, Histopathological changes of gill, liver and Kidney in Caspian kutum exposed to Linear Alkylbenzene Sulfonate, Iranian Journal of Fisheries Sciences, 12: 887-897.
Nasehi, F, Hassani, AH, Monavvari, M, Karbassi, AR & Khorasani, N 2013, Evaluating the metallic pollution of riverine water and sediments: a case study of Aras River. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 185: 197-203.
Nasrabadi, T, Bidhendi, GN, Karbassi, A & Mehrdadi, N 2010, Evaluating the efficiency of sediment metal pollution indices in interpreting the pollution of Haraz River sediments, southern Caspian Sea basin. Environmental Monitoring and Assessment, 171: 395-410.
Osalou, ZA, Azari AM, Fard, AN, Seidgar, M, Yahyazadeh, M, Shiri S & Kalashani, A 2015, The study of water quality fluctuations of Aras reservoir. Journal of Wetland Eco Biology, 23: 5-14.
Pacheco, M, Santos, MA 2002, Biotransformation, genotoxic and histopathological effects of environmental contaminants in European eel, Anguilla anguilla L. Ecotoxicology and  Environmental Safety, 53: 331-347.
Parikh, PH, Rangrez, A, Adhikari-Bagchi, R & Desai, BN 2010, Effect of dimethoate on some histoarchitecture of freshwater fish Oreocromis mossambicus (Peters, 1852). Bioscan, 5: 55-58.
Paulo, D.V, Fontes, FM & Flores-Lopes, F 2012, Histopathological alterations observed in the liver of Poecilia vivipara (Cyprinodontiformes: Poeciliidae) as a tool for the environmental quality assessment of the Cachoeira River, BA. Brazilian Journal of Biology, 72: 131-140.
Peebuaa, P, Kruatrachuea, M, Pokethitiyooka, P & Kosiyachindaa, P 2006, Histological effects of contaminated sediments in Mae Klong River tributaries, Thailand, on Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus. Science Asia, 32, 143-150
Poleksić, V & Mitrović-Tutundžić, V 1994, Fish gills as a monitor of sublethal and chronic effects of pollution. Sublethal and chronic effects of pollutants on freshwater fish. Oxford: Fishing News Books, 339-352.
Salamat, N, Soleimani, Z, Safahieh, A, Savari, A & Ronagh, MT 2012, Using histopathological changes as a biomarker to trace contamination loading of Musa Creeks (Persian Gulf). Toxicologic Pathology, 41: 913-920.
Shuman, L.A, Selyukov, AG, Nekrasov, IS & Kyrov, DN 2019, Histopathology and changes of reproductive parameters in peled, Coregonus peled, from the Lower Ob Basin. Russian Journal of Ecology, 50: 372-383.
Solgi, E & Sheikhzadeh, H 2016, Technical note; study of water quality of Aras River using physicochemical variables.  Iran-Water Resources Research, 12: 207-213.
Thophon, S, Kruatrachue, M, Upathan, ES, Pokethitiyook, P, Sahaphong, S & Jarikhuan S 2003, Histopathological alterations of white seabass, Latescal cariferin acute and subchronic cadmium exposure. Environmental Pollution, 121: 307-320
Uçar, A & Atamanalp, M 2009, Toxicopathological lesions in fish II. Ziraat Fakültesi Dergisi, Atatürk Üniversitesi, 40(1): 95-101 (Article in Turkish with English abstract).
Van der Oost, R, Beyer, J & Vermeulen, NP 2003, Fish bioaccumulation and biomarkers in environmental risk assessment: a review. Environmental Toxicology and Pharmacology, 13(2): 57-149.
Zhang, L, Shi, Z, Zhang, J, Jiang, Z, Wang, F & Huang, X 2015, Spatial and seasonal characteristics of dissolved heavy metals in the east and west Guangdong coastal waters, South China. Marine Pollution Bulletin, 95: 419-426.