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Gen Comp Endocrinol. 2001 Sep;123(3):308-23.

The effect of low temperature and fasting during the winter on metabolic stores and endocrine physiology (insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I, and thyroxine) of coho salmon, Oncorhynchus kisutch.

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Integrative Fish Biology Program, Northwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, 2725 Montlake Boulevard, East Seattle, Washington 98112, USA.


The objective of this study was to examine the effect of winter feeding and fasting at both high (10 degrees ) and low (2.5 degrees ) temperatures on growth, metabolic stores, and endocrinology of coho salmon. Treatments were as follows: warm-fed, warm-not fed, cold-fed, and cold-not fed during the winter (January-February). The following parameters were measured: length, weight, whole body lipid, liver glycogen, hepatosomatic index, and plasma levels of insulin, insulin-like growth factor-I (IGF-I), and thyroxine (T4). Warm-fed fish grew continuously throughout the experiment from 21.5 +/- 0.3 to 43.4 +/- 1.4 g and were larger than fish in the other treatments. Fish in all other treatments grew from 21.5 +/- 0.3 to approximately 32 g and showed depressed growth during January and February. During the winter, liver glycogen, hepatosomatic index, plasma insulin, and IGF-I were highly influenced by manipulations in rearing conditions, whereas whole body lipid and plasma T4 were less affected. Plasma insulin levels fluctuated dramatically (from 2 to 7 ng/ml) in the two cold-acclimated groups shortly after the change in temperature. In general, the plasma insulin levels of the warm-fed fish were the highest (8-9 ng/ml), those of the warm-not fed fish were the lowest (2-5 ng/ml), and those of the two cold-acclimated groups were more variable but intermediate. In contrast, plasma IGF-I levels showed a decline with temperature decrease (from 9 to 5 ng/ml) and more gradual changes than insulin with the change in feeding. The highest plasma IGF-I levels were found in the warm-fed fish (10-15 ng/ml), the lowest levels were in the cold-not fed fish (4-5 ng/ml), and those of the warm-not fed and cold-fed fish were intermediate. During the treatment period the T4 levels were relatively unaffected by manipulations in feeding and temperature compared with either insulin or IGF-I. These data suggest that the insulin, IGF-I, and thyroid axes are differentially regulated under changing seasonal and/or environmental conditions in yearling salmon.

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