Acute elevation of cortisol via activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis aids the fish in dealing with a stressor. However, chronic elevation of cortisol has detrimental effects and has been studied extensively in lab settings. However, data pertaining to wild teleosts are lacking. Here, we characterized the metabolic consequences of prolonged cortisol elevation (96 h) in wild-caught pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus). Pumpkinseed were implanted with cocoa butter alone (sham) or containing cortisol (25 mg kg−1 body weight), and at 24, 48, 72, and 96 h, tissue samples were collected, whole-body ammonia excretion was determined, and whole-organism metabolism was assessed using intermittent flow respirometry. Cortisol-treated pumpkinseed exhibited the highest plasma cortisol concentration at 24 h post-implantation, with levels decreasing over the subsequent time points although remaining higher than in sham-treated fish. Cortisol-treated fish exhibited higher standard and maximal metabolic rates than sham-treated fish, but the effect of cortisol treatment on aerobic scope was negligible. Indices of energy synthesis/mobilization, including blood glucose concentrations, hepatosomatic index, hepatic glycogen concentrations, and ammonia excretion rates, were higher in cortisol-treated fish compared with controls. Our work suggests that although aerobic scope was not diminished by prolonged elevation of cortisol levels, higher metabolic expenditures may be of detriment to the animal’s performance in the longer term.

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Fish Physiology and Biochemistry
Department of Biology

Lawrence, M.J. (Michael J.), Eliason, E.J. (Erika J.), Zolderdo, A.J. (Aaron J.), Lapointe, D. (Dominique), Best, C. (Carol), Gilmour, K.M. (Kathleen M.), & Cooke, S.J. (2019). Cortisol modulates metabolism and energy mobilization in wild-caught pumpkinseed (Lepomis gibbosus). Fish Physiology and Biochemistry. doi:10.1007/s10695-019-00680-z