Plasma levels of cortisol, growth hormone (GH), adrenocorticotropin hormone (ACTH), α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (α-MSH), N-acetyl-β-endorphin, in vitro ACTH-stimulated cortisol secretion, and in vitro corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH)- and thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)-stimulated ACTH and α-MSH secretion were investigated in gilthead sea bream exposed to high stocking density (30 kg m-3) for 23 days. Within 3 days after the onset of crowding, plasma levels of cortisol, ACTH, α-MSH, and N-acetyl-β-endorphin were above control values. After 7 days, plasma parameters had returned to control levels, but at 23 days, cortisol, α-MSH, and N-acetyl-β-endorphin levels were again elevated over controls, indicating a long-term activation of the melanotrope cells. In contrast, crowding stress elicited a pro longed reduction in plasma GH levels concomitant with the increased hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis (HPI) activation. Crowding stress enhanced cortisol secretory activity of the unstimulated interrenal cells. However, interrenal tissue from crowded fish in vitro displayed an attenuated response to ACTH stimulation compared with tissue from control fish, indicating a desensitization of these cells to ACTH during crowding. The involvement of pituitary proopiomelanocortin-derived peptides in the HPI axis of sea bream is indicated by the observed modulation of the CRH and TRH responsiveness of the corticotropes and melanotropes in crowded fish. At day 1, when there were crowding-induced plasma increases in ACTH and α-MSH, there was an attenuated CRH-stimulated but not TRH-stimulated, ACTH release. However, at that time, CRH- and TRH-induced responses of α-MSH secretion, and the unstimulated secretory activity of the MSH cells, were enhanced in crowded sea bream. These data provide evidence for stimulatory roles of multiple hypothalamic (CRH and TRH) and pituitary (ACTH and α-MSH) peptides in the activation of the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis under crowding conditions in sea bream. (C) 2000 Academic Press.
- Gilthead sea bream
- Head kidney