Evaluation of Hormone-Induced Stress Responses Using Endogenous Cortisol in Carp (Cyprinus carpio)


With stress studies in fish it is often difficult to determine the degree of response to various stressors, and the interpretation of this influence is usually based on an increase in endogenous cortisol levels. Simulation of stress with synthetic corticosteroids is widely used in ichthyological practice, which raises the question of whether endogenous cortisol is the most appropriate parameter for measuring stress levels in such studies. This work presents the dynamics of the plasma cortisol level in simulating acute and chronic stress in 24 carps by a single injection of dexamethasone in the first experimental group and betamethasone in the second experimental group, in comparison with the control group (without injection) for 21 days. The analysis was performed before injection, as well as after 7, 14 and 21 days of treatment. The hormonal response was compared with that of fish stressed by natural factors (hypoxia). It was found that betamethasone inactivates the production of endogenous cortisol during all subsequent days of the experiment after injection from 353.68±66.39 ng/ml to 7.28±1.27 ng/ml by day 21, while the effect of dexamethasone caused multidirectional fluctuations in its level: from 346.25±43.16 ng/ml to 242.25±58.49 ng/ml on the 7th day, 388.25±37.51 ng/ml on the 14th day and 264.25±21.21 ng/ml on day 21 compared with smooth dynamics in control fish: 376.25±44.04 ng/ml, 366.75±42.82 ng/ml, 335.33±8.57 ng/ml and 366.00±89.22 ng/ml, respectively. It was concluded that measuring the level of endogenous cortisol is not recommended when assessing the degree of stress imitation by these hormones, and in studies of this type it is necessary to search for other indicators.

Keywords: carp, cortisol, stress, dexamethasone, betamethasone, hormone

[1] Van Weerd, J. H. and Komen, J. (1998). The Effects of Chronic Stress on Growth in Fish: A Critical Appraisal. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology, vol. 120, issue 1, pp. 107-112.

[2] Reid, S. G., Bernier, N. J. and Perry, S. F. (1998). The Adrenergic Stress Response in Fish: Control of Catecholamine Storage and Release. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Pharmacology, Toxicology and Endocrinology, vol. 120, issue 1, pp. 1-27.

[3] Bonga, W. S. E. (1997). The Stress Response in Fish. Physiological Reviews, vol. 77, issue 3, pp. 591-625.

[4] Perestoronina, E. A., Berezina, D. I. and Fomina, L. L. (2019). The Influence of Cortisol on Coagulation and Immunological Parameters of Fish Blood. Young Researchers of Agro-Industrial and Forestry Complexes to the Regions: Biological Sciences, vol. 3, issue 2, pp. 84-89.

[5] Berezina, D. I., Fomina, L. L. and Goreva, A. D. (2020). Effect of Stress Factors on the Coagulogram of Common Carp, Cyprinus Carpio. Biosciences Biotechnology Research Asia, vol. 17, issue 3, pp. 629-635.

[6] Smith, L. S. (1982). Introduction to Fish Physiology. Neptune City: TFH Publications.

[7] Schreck, C. B., et al. (2016) Biology of Stress in Fish. London: Academic Press.

[8] Mazeaud, M. M., Mazeaud, F. and Donaldson, E. M. (1977). Primary and Secondary Effects of Stress in Fish: Some New Data with a General Review. Transactions of the American Fisheries Society, vol. 106, issue 3, pp. 201-212.

[9] Pickering, A. D. (1981) Introduction: The Concept of Biological Stress. In A.D. Pickering (ed.) Stress and Fish, Academic Press, London, pp. 1-9.

[10] Donaldson, E. M. (1981). The Pituitary-Interrenal Axis as an Indicator of Stress in Fish. In A.D. Pickering (ed.) Stress and Fish, Academic Press, London, pp. 11-47.

[11] Barton, B. A. and Iwama, G. K. (1991). Physiological Changes in Fish from Stress in Aquaculture with Emphasis on the Response and Effects of Corticosteroids. Annual Review of Fish Diseases, vol. 1, pp. 3-26.

[12] Pottinger, T. G. (1998). Changes in Blood Cortisol, Glucose and Lactate in Carp Retained in Anglers’ Keepnets. Journal of Fish Biology, vol. 53, issue 4, pp. 728-742.

[13] Ruane, N. M., Huisman, E. A. and Komen, J. (2001). Plasma Cortisol and Metabolite Level Profiles in Two Isogenic Strains of Common Carp During Confinement. Journal of Fish Biology, vol. 59, issue 1, pp. 1-12.

[14] Friedrich, M. (1996). Impact of Transportation and Environmental Change on the Levels ACTH and Cortisol in the Blood of Carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). Acta Ichthyologica et Piscatoria, vol. 1, issue 26, pp. 49-53.

[15] Dobšíková, R., et al. (2009). The Effect of Transport on Biochemical and Haematological Indices of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio). Czech Journal of Animal Science, vol. 54, issue 11, pp. 510-518.

[16] Ruane, N. M., Carballo, E. C. and Komen, J. (2002). Increased Stocking Density Influences the Acute Physiological Stress Response of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). Aquaculture Research, vol. 33, issue 10, pp. 777-784.

[17] Van Heel, T. I., et al. (2001). Plasma Lactate and Stress Hormones in Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio) and Rainbow Trout (Oncorhynchus Mykiss) during Stepwise Decreasing Oxygen Levels. Netherlands Journal of Zoology, vol. 51, issue 1, pp. 33-50.

[18] Tanck, M. W. T., et al. (2000). Cold Shocks: A Stressor for Common Carp. Journal of Fish Biology, vol. 57, issue 4, pp. 881-894.

[19] Lutnicka, H., et al. (2019). Exposure to Herbicide Linuron Results in Alterations in Hematological Profile and Stress Biomarkers of Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio). Ecotoxicology, vol. 28, issue 1, pp. 69-75.

[20] Gluth, G. and Hanke, W. (1984). A Comparison of Physiological Changes in Carp, Cyprinus Carpio, Induced by Several Pollutants at Sublethal Concentration–II. The Dependency on the Temperature. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. C, Comparative Pharmacology and Toxicology, vol. 79, issue 1, pp. 39-45.

[21] Gluth, G. and Hanke, W. (1985). A Comparison of Physiological Changes in Carp, Cyprinus Carpio, Induced by Several Pollutants at Sublethal Concentrations: I. The Dependency on Exposure Time. Ecotoxicology and Environmental Safety, vol. 9, issue 2, pp. 179-188.

[22] Van Dijk, P. L. M., et al. (1993). The Influence of Gradual Water Acidification on The Acid/Base Status and Plasma Hormone Levels in Carp. Journal of Fish Biology, vol. 42, issue 5, pp. 661-671.

[23] Nagae, M., et al. (2001). Effect of Acidification Stress on Endocrine and Immune Functions in Carp, Cyprinus Carpio. Water, Air, and Soil Pollution, vol. 130, issue 1-4, pp. 893-898.

[24] Kakuta, I. and Murachi, S. (1992). Renal Response to Hypoxia in Carp, Cyprinus Carpio: Changes in Glomerular Filtration Rate, Urine and Blood Properties and Plasma Catecholamines of Carp Exposed to Hypoxic Conditions. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part A: Physiology, vol. 103, issue 2, pp. 259-267.

[25] Jeney, Z. S., et al. (1992). Acute Effect of Sublethal Ammonia Concentrations on Common Carp (Cyprinus carpio L.). I. Effect of Ammonia on Adrenaline and Noradrenaline Levels in Different Organs. Aquaculture, vol. 104, issue 1-2, pp. 139-148.

[26] Svobodová, Z., et al. (1999). The Effect of Handling and Transport of the Concentration of Glucose and Cortisol in Blood Plasma of Common Carp. Acta Veterinaria Brno, vol. 68, issue 4, pp. 265-274.

[27] Takahara, T., et al. (2014). Differences between Domesticated Eurasian and Japanese Indigenous Strains of the Common Carp (Cyprinus Carpio) in Cortisol Release Following Acute Stress. Ichthyological Research, vol. 61, issue 2, pp. 165-168.

[28] Espelid, S., et al. (1996). Effects of Cortisol and Stress on the Immune System in Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salarL.). Fish & Shellfish Immunology, vol. 6, issue 2, pp. 95-110.

[29] Pickering, A. D. and Pottinger, T. G. (1989). Stress Responses and Disease Resistance in Salmonid Fish: Effects of Chronic Elevation of Plasma Cortisol. Fish Physiology and Biochemistry, vol. 7, issue 1-6, pp. 253-258.

[30] Vijayan, M. M., et al. (1997). Metabolic Responses Associated aith Confinement Stress in Tilapia: The Role of Cortisol. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C: Pharmacology, Toxicology and Endocrinology, vol. 116, issue 1, pp. 89-95.

[31] Roth, R. R. (1972). Some Factors Contributing to the Development of Fungus Infection in Freshwater Fish. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, vol. 8, issue 1, pp. 24-28.

[32] Mikryakov, D. V. (2004). The Influence of Some Corticosteroid Hormones on the Structure and Function of the Immune System of Fish. (Doctoral dissertation, Institute of Ecology and Evolution Problems of the Academy of Sciences of Severtsov of the RAS, 2004).

[33] Mikryakov, D. V., Mikryakov, V. R. and Silkina, N. I. (2007). Changes in Morphophysiological Parameters of Immunocompetent Organs of Carp Cyprinus Carpio under the Influence of Stress Hormone. Ichthyology Issues, vol. 47, issue 3, pp. 418-424.

[34] Mikryakov, D. V., Silkina, N. I. and Mikryakov, V. R. (2007). The Effect of the Stress Hormone Cortisone on Oxidative Processes in the Immunocompetent Organs of the Common Carp Cypirinus carpio L. Biology of Inland Waters, vol. 3, pp. 84-86.

[35] Houghton, G. and Matthews, R. A. (1986). Immunosuppression of Carp (Cyprinus Carpio L.) To Ichthyophthiriasis using the Corticosteroid Triamcinolone Acetonide. Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology, vol. 12, issue 1-4, pp. 413-419.

[36] Houghton, G. and Matthews, R. A. (1990). Immunosuppression in Juvenile Carp, Cyprinus Carpio L.: The Effects of the Corticosteroids Triamcinolone Acetonide and Hydrocortisone 21-Hemisuccinate (Cortisol) on Acquired Immunity and the Humoral Antibody Response to Ichthyophthirius Multifiliis Fouquet. Journal of Fish Diseases, vol. 13, issue 4, pp. 269-280.

[37] Gamperl, A. K., Vijayan, M. M. and Boutilier, R. G. (1994). Experimental Control of Stress Hormone Levels in Fishes: Techniques and Applications. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, vol. 4, issue 2, pp. 215-255.

[38] Balabanova, L. V., Mikryakov, D. V. and Mikryakov, V. R. (2009). The Reaction of Leukocytes from Carp Cyprinus Carpio to Hormone-Induced Stress. Biology of Inland Waters, vol. 1, pp. 91.

[39] Hamackova J., et al. (2006). Clove Oil as an Anaesthetic for Different Freshwater Fish Species. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, vol. 12, issue 2, pp. 185.

[40] Pickering, A. D., Pottinger, T. G. and Sumpter, J. P. (1987). On the use of Dexamethasone to Block the Pituitary-Interrenal Axis in the Brown Trout, Salmo Trutta L. General and Comparative Endocrinology, vol. 65, issue 3, pp. 346-353.