In teleosts, the stress hormone cortisol and the calcium regulatory hormone stanniocalcin (STC) are both involved in the regulation of ion balance. Under stressful conditions, ion balance is easily disturbed as stressors via the stress signals they evoke disturb easily and primarily gill function. The gills are key in fish gas exchange and ion regulation. The present work evaluates the effect of the pivotal stress signal cortisol, the eventual output of the stress axis on STC secretion in freshwater rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Plasma cortisol levels were manipulated by intraperitoneal injections of porcine ACTH1-39or dexamethasone (Dex), and plasma cortisol, STC and mineral status were assessed. A perifusion assay of trout Stannius corpuscles was validated and used to study the direct effects of stress-related signals on STC release. In perifusion, cortisol, adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH), and dexamethasone did not affect STC release. ACTH injections increase plasma cortisol (corresponding to an acute stress) and STC concentrations, but did not affect mineral status. Dexamethasone injections resulted either in a classical hypocortisolinemia or, unexpectedly, in hypercortisolinemia. However, independently of the resulting cortisol status Dex induced a chronic stress effect, as indicated by decreased plasma Na, Cl, and Ca levels, and increased plasma STC concentrations. The increased STC secretion cannot be explained by the classical elevation of plasma calcium concentration. Thus, plasma parameters other than calcium could be involved and we propose that STC secretion might be stimulated also by a decrease of NaCl concentrations, implying a broader function than the classical hypocalcemic action of STC. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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