The gills of fish have a great external contact surface and are particularly sensitive to chemical and physical changes in the aquatic environment. The aim of this study was to examine the histopathologic alterations in the gills of Astyanax fasciatus and Cyanocharax alburnus and to determine if there is a correlation between the severity of the alterations and environmental degradation and if this biological system can be used as a tool for evaluating water quality in monitoring programmes. The gills of 107 specimens of Astyanax fasciatus and 116 of Cyanocharax alburnus were collected seasonally and processed using routine histologic techniques for fixing and embedding in paraffin and staining of sections with haematoxylin and eosin. The main alterations observed in both species were alteration of the structure of the epithelium, vacuolisation, hyperplasia of the epithelium of the primary lamella, epithelial lifting, and alteration of the structure and occurrence of aneurysms in the secondary lamella. The locations Gasometer and F. do Celupa were the ones that showed the highest frequencies of moderate and severe alterations as the highest "histopathologic alterations index" means. The most severe alterations were found to be related to the most impacted environment, indicating the presence of stressors in the water.
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