Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 245–257 | Cite as

Temporal changes in plasma thyroid hormone, growth hormone and free fatty acid concentrations, and hepatic 5′-monodeiodinase activity, lipid and protein content during chronic fasting and re-feeding in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

  • K. J. Farbridge
  • J. F. Leatherland


Temporal changes in growth, plasma thyroid hormone, cortisol, growth hormone (GH) and non-esterified fatty acid (NEFA) concentrations, hepatic T3 content and hepatic 5′-monodeiodinase activity were measured in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) subjected to a sustained fast for up to eight weeks, and during a four-week re-feeding period. The purpose of the study was to examine aspects of the endocrine control of energy partitioning processes characteristic of short-term (acute; fasting) and long-term (chronic; starvation) food-deprivation states in fish, and to explore the role of the thyroid hormones, cortisol and GH in the energy repartitioning that takes place during an acute anabolic (re-feeding) state following chronic food deprivation.

Differences in growth rate between fed and fasted groups were evident after two weeks, but significant weight loss by the fasted groups was not evident until between four and six weeks into the fast. Hepatosomatic indices (HSIs) were significantly reduced in the fasted fish within seven days, and as early as two days in one study; recovery of the HSI in fasted fish was evident within three days of re-feeding. Liver protein content (expressed as % wet weight) was consistently depressed in the fasted fish in only one of the three studies. Liver total lipid content (expressed as % wet weight) was depressed in the fasted fish within two days of food deprivation. Because of the rapid and sustained decrease in the HSI of fasted fish, the hepatic total protein and lipid reserves, when considered on a body weight basis, were markedly lowered within the first few days of the fast. Plasma GH concentrations exhibited a bi-modal pattern of change, with a transient fall in levels, followed by a sustained increase in fasted fish. The indicators of interrenal activity were suggestive of a depressed pituitary-interrenal axis in fasted animals; plasma cortisol levels were elevated to levels of fed animals within one day of re-feeding. The indicators of thyroid hormone economy (plasma thyroid hormone levels, liver triiodothyronine content, hepatic 5′-monodeiodinase (MD) activity, thyroid epithelial cell height) were similarly indicative of a depressed pituitary-thyroid axis in fasted animals, with recovery to levels of the fed animals within one week. Despite the compensatory changes in accumulation of reserves (as indicated by a compensatory increase in HSI), there were no apparent compensatory changes in any of the endocrine parameters evident during the re-feeding period.


fasting starvation growth thyroid hormones thyroxine triiodothyronine hepatic 5′-monodeiodinase growth hormone cortisol interrenal gland hepatosomatic index non-esterified fatty acid energy partitioning rainbow trout 


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Copyright information

© Kugler Publications 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • K. J. Farbridge
    • 1
  • J. F. Leatherland
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Ichthyology, Department of ZoologyUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada

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