To evaluate the effects of sex steroids on silvering in the Japanese eel, Anguilla japonica, the development of oocytes, eye size, digestive tract, and swim bladder were studied in relation to observations of the profiles of plasma levels of sex steroids (estradiol 17β, E2; testosterone, T; 11-ketotestosterone; 11-KT) during silvering for each sex and by administrating 11-KT to yellow eels. All steroids examined in the study increased in female eels after silvering had begun, whereas in males, only 11-KT increased significantly, and no statistical differences were found in plasma levels of E2 and T between eels in both developmental stages. 11-KT appeared to induce the early stage of oocyte growth, enlargement of the eyes, degeneration of the digestive tract and the development of the swim bladder. This suggested that 11-KT synchronously accelerates early development of the ovaries and the morphological changes, possibly in adaption to oceanic migration, and that 11-KT is one of the most important factors in early stages of development in the Japanese eel, as it appears to be in other anguillid eels.
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Vol. 29 • No. 4