Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 43, Issue 6, pp 1501–1515 | Cite as

Influence of immunostimulant polysaccharides, nucleic acids, and Bacillus strains on the innate immune and acute stress response in turbots (Scophthalmus maximus) fed soy bean- and wheat-based diets

  • V. I. FuchsEmail author
  • J. Schmidt
  • M. J. Slater
  • B. H. Buck
  • D. Steinhagen


Immunostimulants are widely applied in aquaculture practice and may have beneficial effects on the immune system and physical functions allowing higher tolerance to stress. In the current study, the impact of four (i–iv) dietary active ingredients on the immune and stress response of turbot was examined in two experiments (I and II). A basal low fish meal (FM; 32%) diet was formulated and supplemented with (i) yeast β-glucan and mannan oligosaccharide (GM), (ii) alginic acid (AC), (iii) yeast nucleotides and RNA (NR), or (iv) Bacillus strains (BS). The basal diet (C-LF) and a high FM (59%) control (C-HF) were maintained. All six diets were fed to juvenile turbots for 84 days in experiment I and for additional 28 days prior to experiment II. Immunological and hematological parameters were determined in experiment I. In experiment II, physical stress response to a typical short-term (<1 day) aquaculture handling procedure (combination of capture, netting/transfer, and crowding) was investigated. For this, turbot blood was sampled before and at 0.5, 1, 4, and 24 h post stress. Plasma lysozyme activity, neutrophil reactive oxygen species (ROS) production, and total plasma protein levels did not significantly differ between treatment groups; however, plasma cholesterol increased significantly in fish fed GM, AC, NR, and C-HF compared to C-LF (I). A significant increase in plasma glucose and triglyceride was observed in GM and NR treatments, while glucose levels were significantly higher in C-HF compared to C-LF. Moreover, the immunostimulant-supplemented diets exhibited significantly lower cortisol levels compared to controls C-LF (at 0.5 h) and C-HF (at 1 h) post stress, respectively (II). According to our findings, FM substitution did not modulate the innate immune response but was associated with reduced levels of cholesterol. Dietary immunostimulants were not effective enough to boost the immune response, but we believe they might be helpful to trigger metabolic advantages during stressful handling events on fish farms.


Turbot Scophthalmus maximus Fish meal reduction Immunostimulants Lysozyme activity Reactive oxygen species Cortisol 



Sincere thanks to Michael Lutz (Köster Marine Proteins) and Matthias Seidel (J. Müller Weser) for supporting this study. Furthermore, special thanks to the scientific and technical staff of AWI and TiHo for the helpful work during the project. The authors wish to thank the anonymous reviewers for their constructive help in improving the manuscript.

Compliance with ethical standards


This study was funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL, “Programm Innovationsförderung”) via the Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE; no. 2817304110).

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • V. I. Fuchs
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • J. Schmidt
    • 2
  • M. J. Slater
    • 2
  • B. H. Buck
    • 2
    • 3
  • D. Steinhagen
    • 1
  1. 1.Fish Disease Research UnitUniversity of Veterinary Medicine HannoverHannoverGermany
  2. 2.Helmholtz Center for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  3. 3.University of Applied Sciences BremerhavenBremerhavenGermany

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