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Aquat Toxicol. 2006 Jun 10;78(1):59-65. Epub 2006 Mar 6.

Effects of Cu on plasma cortisol and cortisol secretion by adrenocortical cells of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss).

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  • 1Département des Sciences Biologiques, TOXEN Research Centre, Université du Québec à Montréal, C.P. 8888, Suc. Centre-ville, Montréal, Que., Canada H3C 3P8.


Fish are exposed to multiple stressors, often acting concurrently, in their environment. To evaluate the potential of Cu to act as a chemical stressor, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were exposed to Cu (30 or 80 microg/l) for 30 days in the laboratory and they were subjected to a physical stressor (1 min air exposure) before sampling. Physiological stress indicators in the whole fish as well as cortisol secretion by adrenocortical cells in vitro were measured. Fish exposed to Cu had a lower condition factor, hepatosomatic index, plasma glucose, hepatic glycogen and gill Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity compared to controls. Exposure to Cu did not have an effect on basal plasma cortisol (fish sampled without air exposure stress) however, the air exposure-induced increase in plasma cortisol was lower in fish exposed to Cu. Cortisol secretion stimulated by ACTH in vitro was greater in adrenocortical cells isolated from fish exposed to Cu in vivo but in vitro exposure to Cu consistently impaired cortisol secretion. Our results indicate that Cu at high concentrations disrupts cortisol secretion through a direct toxic effect on adrenocortical cells while low concentrations resulting from a 30-day exposure to environmentally relevant Cu concentrations enhances cortisol secretion in response to ACTH in vitro.

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