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J Comp Physiol B. 2014 Aug;184(6):719-28. doi: 10.1007/s00360-014-0831-2. Epub 2014 Apr 24.

Linking physiological and cellular responses to thermal stress: β-adrenergic blockade reduces the heat shock response in fish.

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Department of Biology, Mount Allison University, 63B York Street, Sackville, NB, E4L 1G7, Canada.


When faced with stress, animals use physiological and cellular strategies to preserve homeostasis. We were interested in how these high-level stress responses are integrated at the level of the whole animal. Here, we investigated the capacity of the physiological stress response, and specifically the β-adrenergic response, to affect the induction of the cellular heat shock proteins, HSPs, following a thermal stress in vivo. We predicted that blocking β-adrenergic stimulation during an acute heat stress in the whole animal would result in reduced levels of HSPs in red blood cells (RBCs) of rainbow trout compared to animals where adrenergic signaling remained intact. We first determined that a 1 h heat shock at 25 °C in trout acclimated to 13 °C resulted in RBC adrenergic stimulation as determined by a significant increase in cell swelling, a hallmark of the β-adrenergic response. A whole animal injection with the β2-adrenergic antagonist, ICI-118,551, successfully reduced this heat-induced RBC swelling. The acute heat shock caused a significant induction of HSP70 in RBCs of 13 °C-acclimated trout as well as a significant increase in plasma catecholamines. When heat-shocked fish were treated with ICI-118,551, we observed a significant attenuation of the HSP70 response. We conclude that circulating catecholamines influence the cellular heat shock response in rainbow trout RBCs, demonstrating physiological/hormonal control of the cellular stress response.

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