Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 41, Issue 5, pp 1261–1278 | Cite as

Activity of the hypothalamus–pituitary–interrenal axis (HPI axis) and immune response in carp lines with different susceptibility to disease

  • L. Pijanowski
  • P. Jurecka
  • I. Irnazarow
  • M. Kepka
  • E. Szwejser
  • B. M. L. Verburg-van Kemenade
  • M. ChadzinskaEmail author


The stress response transmitted by the HPA axis is one of the best examples of neuroendocrine–immune interactions that are critical for survival. Analogous to the situation in mammals, the stress response in fish is characterized by the activation of the hypothalamo–pituitary–interrenal axis (HPI). Effects of cortisol on the fish immune system comply with findings in mammals and suggest that the differences in sensitivity to stress will influence the immune response and as a consequence of survival. Therefore, we studied the stress response and its immunity-related effects in four different carp lines (R3, R3xR8, K and R2) that display a differential pathogen susceptibility. Previous studies indicate that R3xR8 and R3 carp are susceptible to bacterial and parasite infection, while R2 and K are relatively resistant to infection. Interestingly, the most striking effect of stress on leukocyte composition and activity was observed in the pathogen-resistant K carp, even though no robust changes in gene expression of stress-involved factors were observed. In contrast, R3 carp showed no spectacular stress-induced changes in their immunological parameters with concurrent significant activation of the HPI axis. Upon stress, the R3 carp showed up-regulation of crf, pomc and gr2 gene expression in the hypothalamus. Furthermore in R3 carp, at all levels of the HPI axis, stress induced the highest up-regulation of il- gene expression. Although we are aware of the complexity of the interactions between stress and pathogen susceptibility and of the risk of interpretation based on correlations, it is noteworthy that the fish more susceptible to infection also exhibited the highest response to stress.


Carp lines Stress response Leukocyte activity Pathogen susceptibility Cortisol 



This work was supported by the Polish National Science Center (Grant No. N N308 572039) and by the Wageningen Institute of Animal Sciences. We are grateful to Marleen Scheer for her technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. Pijanowski
    • 1
  • P. Jurecka
    • 3
  • I. Irnazarow
    • 3
  • M. Kepka
    • 1
  • E. Szwejser
    • 1
  • B. M. L. Verburg-van Kemenade
    • 2
  • M. Chadzinska
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Evolutionary ImmunologyJagiellonian UniversityKrakowPoland
  2. 2.Cell Biology and Immunology Group, Department of Animal SciencesWageningen UniversityWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Institute of Ichthyobiology and AquaculturePolish Academy of SciencesChybiePoland

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