Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 187, Issue 1, pp 51–61 | Cite as

Effects of thermal stress on the immune and oxidative stress responses of juvenile sea cucumber Holothuria scabra

  • Elham Kamyab
  • Holger Kühnhold
  • Sara C. Novais
  • Luís M. F. Alves
  • Lisa Indriana
  • Andreas Kunzmann
  • Matthew Slater
  • Marco F. L. Lemos
Original Paper


Holothuria scabra is the most valued and cultured tropical sea cucumber, given the great demand of this species for human consumption. However, despite its ecological and economic relevance, little is known regarding its immune responses under thermal stress. Here, the main goal was to study the response of sea cucumbers to temperature stress, assessing sub-organismal alterations and acclimation capacities of juveniles to temperature changes. After changing temperature (1 °C/day) for 6 days, organisms were exposed to temperature conditions of 21 °C (cold), 27 °C (control), and 33 °C (warm) over a 30 day period. At each 15-day interval (T0, T15, and T30), six replicates per condition were killed for biochemical analysis. Immune responses were addressed by studying the activity of phenoloxidase (PO) and prophenoloxidase (ProPO) in the coelomic fluid. Antioxidant defence responses—catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione reductase (GR) enzymatic activities—were measured in the muscle and respiratory tree tissues, whereas oxidative damage was evaluated by measuring levels of superoxide radicals (ROS), DNA-strand breaks and lipid peroxidation (LPO). Juvenile H. scabra increased SOD and PO activities when temperature was elevated, and revealed low levels of ROS and damage in both cold and warm treatments throughout the experiment, confirming the organism’s moderate thermal stress. After the short acclimation period, the immune and antioxidant responses prevented damage and maintained homeostasis. This multi-biomarker approach highlights its usefulness to monitor the health of H. scabra and to gain insight concerning the use of this high-valued species in global-scale aquaculture from different temperature regions.


Biomarkers Tropical aquaculture Climate change Environmental stress Antioxidant responses Acclimation 



This study had the support of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT) Strategic Project UID/MAR/04292/2013 granted to MARE, and from an FCT and Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst (DAAD) program for bilateral cooperation funding. Sara Novais was supported by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia through the research Grant SFRH/BPD/94500/2013.

Supplementary material

360_2016_1015_MOESM1_ESM.docx (133 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 132 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elham Kamyab
    • 1
  • Holger Kühnhold
    • 1
  • Sara C. Novais
    • 2
  • Luís M. F. Alves
    • 2
  • Lisa Indriana
    • 3
  • Andreas Kunzmann
    • 1
  • Matthew Slater
    • 4
  • Marco F. L. Lemos
    • 2
    • 5
  1. 1.Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology (ZMT)BremenGermany
  2. 2.MARE-Marine and Environmental Sciences CentreESTM, Instituto Politécnico de LeiriaPenichePortugal
  3. 3.The Indonesian Institute of ScienceResearch Centre for Oceanography (LIPI)LombokIndonesia
  4. 4.Alfred Wegener InstituteHelmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI)BremerhavenGermany
  5. 5.Edifício CETEMARESPenichePortugal

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