Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 131-140

First online:

Altered stress responses in rainbow trout following a dietary administration of cortisol and β-napthoflavone

  • N. BasuAffiliated withFaculty of Agricultural Sciences and AquaNet, University of British Columbia
  • , C.J. KennedyAffiliated withDepartment of Biological Sciences, Simon Fraser University
  • , P.V. HodsonAffiliated withSchool of Environmental Studies, Queen's University
  • , G.K. IwamaAffiliated withFaculty of Agricultural Sciences and AquaNet, University of British Columbia

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Previous studies have demonstrated that fish inhabiting polluted waterways often have an impaired stress response at the organismal level. Given the possible link between the organismal (i.e. cortisol) and cellular (i.e. heat shock proteins; hsp) stress responses, we conducted this study to examine the ability of rainbow trout to respond to a 2 h, +14 °C heat stress (HS) challenge following a 28 d, sub-chronic exposure to increased concentrations of cortisol (5 mg kg−1 b.w.), β-napthoflavone (bnf; 50 mg kg−1 b.w.), and a combination of both (mixture), through the diet (1.5% b.w. every 48 h). While control fish responded to the HS by significantly increasing components of their organismal (cortisol, glucose, and lactate) and cellular (hepatic hsp70 protein) stress responses 6 and 24 h post HS, cortisol-, bnf-, and mixture-fed fish had impaired stress responses at both levels of organization. Additionally, hepatic hsp70 levels were significantly reduced 6 h post HS in cortisol-fed fish. While bnf-fed fish had significantly higher EROD activity, cortisol potentiated EROD activity in the mixture-fed fish. Similarly, plasma cortisol concentrations in the mixture-fed fish were significantly lower relative to cortisol-fed fish. These data are the first to indicate that sub-chronically stressed fish can have impaired stress responses at both the organismal and cellular levels. These findings raise questions regarding: (a) the universal and simple applicability of biological indicators of stress in fish; (b) the possible functional relationship between these two levels of stress responses; and (c) the importance of hsps in the generalized stress response of the whole organism.

fish generalized stress response glucose heat shock proteins hsp70 lactate polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons toxicants