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J Exp Biol. 2002 May;205(Pt 10):1419-27.

The freeze-avoidance response of smelt Osmerus mordax: initiation and subsequent suppression of glycerol, trimethylamine oxide and urea accumulation.

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Ocean Sciences Centre, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St John's Newfoundland, Canada A1C 5S7.


Smelt (Osmerus mordax) were maintained at either ambient water temperature or approximately 5 degrees C and various aspects of their freeze-avoidance response were examined from early winter until early spring. Plasma levels of glycerol, trimethylamine oxide (TMAO) and urea were elevated by December 15 and continued to increase in fish held in ambient conditions. In contrast, fish held under warm conditions exhibited decreased glycerol and urea content in plasma, muscle and liver. Plasma and liver TMAO levels also decreased in these fish while muscle TMAO did not vary from the initial values. The activity of liver enzymes involved with the production of glycerol did not differ significantly between groups and had decreased by the end of the study. Antifreeze protein (AFP) expression increased over the duration of the experiment. In January samples, AFP activity (thermal hysteresis) did not vary significantly between groups but mRNA levels were significantly lower in the smelt held at warm temperatures.

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