Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 39, Issue 5, pp 1223–1238 | Cite as

Effects of dietary arachidonic acid on cortisol production and gene expression in stress response in Senegalese sole (Solea senegalensis) post-larvae

  • Dulce Alves MartinsEmail author
  • Filipa Rocha
  • Filipa Castanheira
  • Ana Mendes
  • Pedro Pousão-Ferreira
  • Narcisa Bandarra
  • Joana Coutinho
  • Sofia Morais
  • Manuel Yúfera
  • Luís E. C. Conceição
  • Gonzalo Martínez-Rodríguez


Dietary fatty acids, particularly arachidonic acid (ARA), affect cortisol and may influence the expression of genes involved in stress response in fish. The involvement of ARA on stress, lipid, and eicosanoid metabolism genes, in Senegalese sole, was tested. Post-larvae were fed Artemia presenting graded ARA levels (0.1, 0.4, 0.8, 1.7, and 2.3 %, dry matter basis), from 22 to 35 days after hatch. Whole-body cortisol levels were determined, before and 3 h after a 2 min air exposure, as well as the expression of phospholipase A2 (PLA 2 ), cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2), steroidogenic acute regulatory protein (StAR), glucocorticoid receptors (GRs), phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (PEPCK), and peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha (PPARα). Relative growth rate (6.0–7.8 % day−1) and survival at the end of the experiment (91–96 %) and after stress (100 %) were unaffected. Fish reflected dietary ARA content and post-stress cortisol increased with ARA supply up to 1.7 %, whereas 2.3 % ARA seemed to enhance basal cortisol slightly and alter the response to stress. Results suggested that elevating StAR transcription might not be necessary for a short-term response to acute stress. Basal cortisol and PLA 2 expression were strongly correlated, indicating a potential role for this enzyme in steroidogenesis. Under basal conditions, larval ARA was associated with GR1 expression, whereas the glucocorticoid responsive gene PEPCK was strongly related with cortisol but not GR1 mRNA levels, suggesting the latter might not reflect the amount of GR1 protein in sole. Furthermore, a possible role for PPARα in the expression of PEPCK following acute stress is proposed.


Arachidonic acid Cortisol Stress Glucocorticoid receptors Senegalese sole 



Long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids


Saturated fatty acids


Monounsaturated fatty acids


Arachidonic acid


Eicosapentaenoic acid


Docosahexaenoic acid




Phospholipase A2




Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor alpha


Steroidogenic acute regulatory protein


Glucocorticoid receptor


Phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase


Relative growth rate



This study was funded by “Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia” (FCT, Portugal; PTDC/MAR/67017/2006), “Consolider—Ingenio 2010” programme (Plan Nacional I + D+I + FEDER, Spain; CSD2007-00002), MCYT + FEDER (Plan Nacional I + D+I, Spain; AGL2007-64450-C02-01), POCTEP Programme (0251-ECOAQUA-5-E). This research also benefited from the grants SFRH/BPD/32469/2006 (FCT, Portugal) and COST-STSM-FA0801-5429 (LARVANET).

Conflict of interest

D. Alves Martins, G. Martínez-Rodríguez, F. Rocha, F. Castanheira, A. Mendes, P. Pousão-Ferreira, N. Bandarra, J. Coutinho, S. Morais, M. Yúfera, L.E.C. Conceição ensure the integrity of the work and none have conflicts of interest to the subject of the manuscript. D.A.M., S.M. and L.E.C.C. designed the research; D.A.M., S.M. and F.C. formulated and manufactured the diets; A.M., P.P.F., D.A.M., F.C., F.R., G.M.R., N.B. and J.C. conducted the experiment; P.P.F., M.Y., and L.E.C.C. provided essential reagents or materials; D.A.M. and F.R. performed the statistical analysis; D.A.M., G.M.R., S.M., M.Y., and L.E.C.C. contributed for manuscript writing; D.A.M. had primary responsibility for the final content. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dulce Alves Martins
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Filipa Rocha
    • 1
  • Filipa Castanheira
    • 1
  • Ana Mendes
    • 4
  • Pedro Pousão-Ferreira
    • 4
  • Narcisa Bandarra
    • 3
  • Joana Coutinho
    • 3
  • Sofia Morais
    • 5
  • Manuel Yúfera
    • 2
  • Luís E. C. Conceição
    • 1
  • Gonzalo Martínez-Rodríguez
    • 2
  1. 1.Centro de Ciências do Mar do AlgarveUniversidade do AlgarveFaroPortugal
  2. 2.Instituto de Ciencias Marinas de Andalucía (ICMAN-CSIC)Puerto RealSpain
  3. 3.Instituto Nacional de Recursos Biológicos, Instituto de Investigação das Pescas e do Mar (INRB/IPIMAR)LisbonPortugal
  4. 4.IPIMAR/CRIPSulOlhãoPortugal
  5. 5.Centre de Sant Carles de la RápitaIRTATarragonaSpain

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