Sex-related differences in the organismal and cellular stress response in juvenile salmon exposed to treated bleached kraft mill effluent
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Exposure of fish to stressors can elicit biochemical and organismal changes at multiple levels of biological organization collectively known as stress responses. The organismal (plasma glucose and cortisol levels) and cellular (hepatic hsp70) stress responses in fish have been studied in several species, but little is known about sex-related differences in these responses. In this study, we exposed sexually immature juvenile chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) to bleached kraft mill effluent (BKME: 0%, 1%, and 10% v/v) for 30 days and then measured components of their organismal and cellular stress responses. Males exposed to 1% BKME had higher levels of plasma glucose than females. Plasma cortisol levels were unaffected in females exposed to BKME, but males exposed to 10% BKME had significantly higher levels of plasma cortisol relative to non-exposed males. While exposure to BKME did not affect hsp70 levels in males, females exposed to 1% BKME had higher levels of hsp70 relative to non-exposed and 10% BKME groups. Within any given treatment, females had higher levels of hsp70 relative to males. This study demonstrates that sex-related differences exist in commonly used indicators of stress in fish, and points out the importance of considering the sex of the fish in stress research.
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