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To qualitatively review reports on lateral line depigmentation (LLD) in marine and freshwater fish.


English-language publications concerning LLD published before March 1, 2020.


Electronic searches of CAB abstracts, PubMed, and Web of Science databases and the proceedings of the International Association of Aquatic Animal Medicine were performed. Records were systematically screened and selected for inclusion in an integrative review. Bibliographies of records included in the review were examined to identify other records to be screened. Included records were qualitatively reviewed. Evidence level and quality were graded according to previously described criteria. Information pertinent to epidemiological factors, etiopathogenesis, clinical and histopathologic findings, treatment, and prevention of LLD was collected.


401 records were screened, and 24 unique publications (16 peer-reviewed articles, 1 textbook, and 7 abstracts) were included in the study; 12 (50%), 1 (4%), 6 (25%), and 5 (21%) were classified as evidence level I (experimental), II (quasi-experimental), III (nonexperimental), and V (clinical reports or clinician experience), respectively. Seventeen (71%) and 7 (29%) reports were classified as high quality and good quality, respectively.


LLD should be considered a clinical observation indicative of a dermato-logic response of fish to suboptimal conditions; LLD should continue to be adopted as the preferred term to describe the classic signs. Whereas gross findings are similar among species, histologic findings can vary. Evidence-based treatment of LLD for individual fish consists of source control (changing tanks or systems), topical treatment with 0.01% becaplermin gel, supportive care, and antimicrobial treatment when warranted. For schools of fish, treatment and prevention of LLD should be focused on improving suboptimal environmental and physiologic conditions. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2021;259:617–625)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association