Red and melanized focal changes in white skeletal muscle in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): Comparative analysis of farmed, wild and hybrid fish reared under identical conditions
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionJournal of Fish Diseases. 2023, 46 (12), 1377-1389. 10.1111/jfd.13856
Selective breeding plays a vital role in the production of farmed Atlantic salmon and has shown success in many aspects. Still, challenges related to fish health and welfare continue to result in significant economic losses. One such challenge is red and melanized focal changes (RFC/MFC), which result from acute and chronic inflammation, respectively, in the skeletal muscle. Importantly, RFC/MFC has not been observed in wild Atlantic salmon, suggesting that both external and genetic factors may contribute to the development of inflammation. To investigate the underlying cause of RFC/MFC, we conducted a study involving 1854 Atlantic salmon of farmed, wild and hybrid origin. All fish were reared under identical conditions to minimize the influence of external factors. Throughout the production cycle, the fish was monitored for growth parameters and examined for RFC/MFC using macroscopic and histological analysis. We found no association between the experimental groups and the presence of RFC/MFC. Histological investigations revealed melano-macrophages in the soft tissue in freshwater smolt, although no macroscopic discoloration was observed. MFC showed granulomas in various stages, suggesting a complex progression of the condition. In summary, we conclude that RFC/MFC is primarily caused by external factors found in the rearing facilities of farmed Atlantic salmon.