Exercise Physiology of Zebrafish: Swimming Effects on Skeletal and Cardiac Muscle Growth, on the Immune System, and the Involvement of the Stress Axis

  • A. P. Palstra
  • M. Schaaf
  • J. V. Planas


Recently, we have established zebrafish as a novel exercise model and demonstrated the stimulation of growth by exercise. Exercise may also induce cardiac hypertrophy and cardiomyocyte proliferation in zebrafish making it an important model to study vertebrate heart regeneration and improved robustness of fish in aquaculture. Moreover, zebrafish has been recently recognized as a valuable model for immunological studies since they possess an adaptive and innate immune system similar to mammals. Given the beneficial effects of exercise on mammalian immune function, zebrafish can be used to investigate exercise-induced stimulation of immune function. Current studies are aimed to demonstrate the mechanisms behind the beneficial exercise effects of enhanced skeletal and cardiac muscle growth and immune functioning and to assess the role of the cortisol stress response at the base of these beneficial exercise effects. As such, zebrafish can be used as an exercise model with implications in basic, biomedical, and applied sciences, such as aquaculture.


Swimming Speed Striped Bass White Muscle Muscle Growth Exercise Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank C. Tudorache, S. Brittijn, E. Burgerhout, O. Stockhammer, G. van den Thillart, H. Spaink (Leiden University, The Netherlands), P. Márquez, M. Rovira, D. Crespo, R. Marin-Juez, J. Torrella (University of Barcelona, Barcelona), L. Sevilla (Barcelona Science Park, Barcelona), S. Boltaña, N. Roher, and S. MacKenzie (Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona, Barcelona) for their assistance with experiments, measurements, and analyses. Research was supported by grants from the Spanish Ministerio de Ciencia e Innovación (AGL2009-07006; CSD2007-0002 to J. V. Planas) and from the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation (project “Marine Aquaculture: Customized Nutrition” to A.P. Palstra). A.P. Palstra was supported by a Marie Curie Intra-European Fellowship (REPRO-SWIM) with Grant Agreement number 219971 and a Marie Curie Reintegration Grant (SWIMFIT) with Grant Agreement number 303500 from the European Commission.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Institute for Marine Resources and Ecosystem Studies (IMARES)Wageningen Aquaculture, Wageningen University & Research CentreYersekeThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Molecular Cell BiologyInstitute of Biology Leiden University (IBL), Sylvius LaboratoryLeidenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Departament de Fisiologia i Immunologia, Facultat de Biologia Universitat de Barcelona and Institut de Biomedicina de la Universitat de Barcelona (IBUB)BarcelonaSpain

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