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Physiological changes in response to social isolation in male medaka fish

Abstract

Fish that display schooling and social behaviors are expected to show stress responses when they are challenged by isolation. Medaka exhibit social behavior in group situations, but little is known about the effects of social isolation on their physiological stress responses. Here, we subjected male medaka to several different housing situations and assessed whether the stress responses differed between grouped and isolated fish. Social isolation decreased plasma cortisol and increased brain serotonin [5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT)] levels in male medaka irrespective of whether or not the isolated fish could visually perceive another individual. However, heat shock treatment, a grouped situation, and a paired situation increased plasma cortisol and decreased brain 5-HT levels. These results suggest that, in male medaka, physical contact among individuals is more stressful than isolation. Moreover, both grouped and paired fish had lower tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2) expression levels than isolated fish, whereas heat shock downregulated both Tph1 and Tph2. The present study indicates that, in fish, the magnitude of reduction in brain Tph1 and Tph2 expression levels and serotonin concentration varies with the type of stress.

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Acknowledgment

This work was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant no. 18K05833).

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A. O. and N. K. designed the study. A. O., M. I., and Y. S. performed the experiments and analyzed the data. A. O. and N. K. wrote the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Nao Kagawa.

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Otsuka, A., Inahata, M., Shimomura, Y. et al. Physiological changes in response to social isolation in male medaka fish. Fish Sci 86, 775–781 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12562-020-01441-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s12562-020-01441-1

Keywords

  • Medaka
  • Plasma cortisol
  • Serotonin
  • Social isolation
  • Tryptophan hydroxylase