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Environ Toxicol Chem. 2001 Feb;20(2):374-81.

Morphological and metabolic changes in common carp, Cyprinus carpio, during short-term copper exposure: interactions between Cu2+ and plasma cortisol elevation.

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Ecophysiology and Biochemistry, Department of Biology, University of Antwerp (RUCA), Groenenborgerlaan 171, B-2020 Antwerp, Belgium.


The effects of increased endogenous cortisol levels were compared with those of sublethal copper exposure in the freshwater common carp, Cyprinus carpio. Fish were exposed to either increased levels of endogenous cortisol (200 ng/ml) or sublethal copper (1.9 microM) alone or were pretreated by elevating plasma cortisol levels prior to copper exposure to assess whether interactions between both treatments occurred. Effects induced by increased cortisol levels included increased Na+/K(+)-adenosine triphosphate (ATPase) activity and increased plasma Na+ and plasma osmolarity, while copper exposure induced anaerobic metabolism, gill damage, decreasing Na+/K(+)-ATPase activity, decreasing plasma ion levels, and blood thickening. Pretreatment of copper-exposed fish with cortisol partially protected these fish by reducing the copper-induced decrease in Na+/K(+)-ATPase activity. Overall, the results obtained in this study argue against a major role for cortisol as an intermediate for the toxic effects of copper.

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