This study aimed to investigate the effects of subleathal lead doses on the histological architecture of gills in the freshwater African catfish, Clarias gariepinus. Results revealed three stages of changes after exposure to three doses of lead nitrate. The changes were mild in fish exposed to 16.12 mg/L of Pb (NO3)2 (stage I 20% of LC50) and severe in case of 40% of LC50 (stage II, 32.24 mg/L) and 60% of LC50 (stage III 48.37% mg/L) in comparison to control. The histological examination revealed normal architecture of gills in control fish. Normal gills were characterized with primary gill lamellae with a central hyaline cartilage. However, three-stage changes were observed after exposure to the three doses of lead nitrate. In stage I, a cartilaginous matrix appeared along with loosening of the epithelial lining of the cartilaginous core and abundant vascular spaces were observed on the secondary gill lamellae. An extra cartilaginous matrix, loosening of the epithelial lining of the cartilaginous core, de-shaped gill lamellae, and degeneration of the secondary gill lamellae were noted in stage II. Lesions in the gill pattern in stage III were represented by shortening of the tips of secondary gill lamellae, damaged gill lamellae, a cartilaginous matrix, and hyperplasia. This indicated that lead exposure resulted in severe histopathological changes in the gills in a dose-dependent manner.
Lead, African Catfish, Gills, Histological Architecture.