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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 1999 Aug;115(2):210-9.

Differences between rainbow trout and brown trout in the regulation of the pituitary-interrenal axis and physiological performance during confinement.

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Department of Animal Physiology, University of Nijmegen, Toernooiveld 1, Nijmegen, 6525 ED, The Netherlands.


The responses of rainbow trout and brown trout to the same stressor were compared by measuring primary and secondary stress responses during and after a 5.5-h net confinement. Basal levels of adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), alpha-melanocyte-stimulating hormone (alpha-MSH), and glucose were higher in brown trout than in rainbow trout. While confinement induced transient increases in plasma ACTH and cortisol levels in both species, the magnitude of these responses, but not the time course, was greater in brown trout. Brown trout, but not rainbow trout, showed a reduction in plasma alpha-MSH levels after 5.5 h confinement before returning to control values, and the glucose levels in the brown trout were elevated throughout the confinement and recovery periods. Confinement also resulted in increased hematocrit values and reduced plasma sodium and chloride levels in both species. Rainbow trout appeared to recover faster from the confinement, as glucose and hematocrit values in the brown trout remained elevated and ionoregulatory disturbances persisted even after 46 h. During recovery effects on the immune system were more pronounced in brown trout than in rainbow trout. Circulating white blood cell numbers were reduced in both species following 23 h recovery, but remained low in the brown trout. Elevated alternative complement activity and oxygen radical production were found after 23 h recovery, and reduced lysozyme activity was found after 46 h, in brown trout only. Results indicate that differences in the stress response of these closely related species, as illustrated by the intensity of the cortisol response, originate at the level of the pituitary and are also manifested through secondary stress responses.

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