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The expression of insulin-like growth factor (IGF-I) in the gut of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) smolt was investigated at the cellular level using in situ hybridization. A hybridization protocol was adapted for use on formalin fixed, paraffin embedded tissues and was based on a digoxigenin-labelled oligoprobe that recognised a conserved region of IGF-I mRNA. The specificity of the anti-sense IGF-I probe and the performance of the hybridization protocol were evaluated using a sense IGF-I probe, an Ep stein-Barr virus probe and an insulin probe cocktail on serial sections of fish gut, mouse thyroid and human lymph node tissue. In the gut of Atlantic salmon smolt, IGF-I was found to be expressed in single epithelial cells or small clusters of epithelial cells in the pyloric ampulla and in the pyloric caeca. Expression was not detected in the lamina propria of the gut or in epithelial cells of the stomach, midgut or hindgut. The restriction of IGF-I expression to the pyloric ampulla and pyloric caeca is consistent with the role of these gut segments in osmoregulation and the scattered epithelial expression supports the putative autocrine/paracrine mechanism of action of IGF-I in osmoregulation.