• bluefin tuna;
  • cytochrome P450 monoxygenase 1A;
  • liver;
  • melanomacrophage centres


Melanomacrophage centres (MMCs), located in different organs of non-mammalian vertebrates, play a role in the destruction, detoxification or recycling of endogenous and exogenous materials. Cytochrome P450 monoxygenase 1A (CYP1A) is involved in xenobiotics biotransformation, and its liver expression is considered as a biomarker for detecting exposure to environmental pollutants. Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABFT), Thunnus thynnus L., liver samples were collected from: wild animals caught in the eastern Atlantic; juveniles reared in the central Adriatic; juveniles reared in the northern Adriatic; adults reared in the western Mediterranean. The samples were processed for basic histology, histochemistry and for CYP1A immunodetection. An unexpected high density of MMCs, containing ferric iron and lipofuscin–ceroids, was detected in the juveniles sampled in the northern Adriatic Sea. These individuals showed also a strong anti-CYP1A immunopositivity in hepatocytes and in the epithelium of bile ducts. This study supports the utility of MMCs as biomarkers of fish ‘health status’ and gives concern for a potential contaminant accumulation in ABFT.