Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 485–493 | Cite as

The onset of stress response in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss embryos subjected to density and handling

  • Gholamreza Ghaedi
  • Bahram Falahatkar
  • Vahid Yavari
  • Mohammad T. Sheibani
  • Gholamreza Nikbakht Broujeni


The present study made an attempt to measure the cortisol content, as an indicator of stress response, in rainbow trout embryos which were exposed to different densities and handling stress (air exposure) during incubation. The three densities of experimental embryos at early development stages were considered as 2.55 embryos/cm2 (low density), 5.10 embryos/cm2 (normal density) and 7.65 embryos/cm2 (high density). The cortisol content of eggs (5.09 ± 0.12 ng/g) decreased to 3.68 ± 0.14 ng/g in newly fertilized eggs. Resting level of cortisol dropped at three densities by day 18 of post fertilization. Then, cortisol increased at hatching stage to 1.16 ± 0.11, 1.20 ± 0.12 and 1.21 ± 0.14 ng/g at low, normal and high densities, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences between cortisol concentrations in three densities. The acute handling stress test (5-min out-of-water), conducted on embryos (48 h post fertilization, organogenesis and eyed stage) in three densities, revealed no differences in whole-body cortisol levels between stressed and unstressed experimental groups. At hatching stage in low-density group, level of cortisol increased but the difference with the pre-stress levels was not statistically significant. Furthermore, significant differences in cortisol levels of stressed and unstressed embryos were detected on hatching in normal and high density groups [1.20 ± 0.12 at time 0–1.49 ± 0.11 ng/g at 1 hps (hours post stress) and from 1.21 ± 0.14 at time 0 to 1.53 ± 0.10 ng/g at 3 hps, respectively]. The results showed no difference in profile of cortisol in different densities, but acute stress conducted on embryos, incubated in different densities, revealed differences in cortisol stress response at hatching between normal and high density, which lead to cortisol increase at hatching time. It indicates that the lag time in the cortisol response to stressors immediately after hatching does not occur when the siblings were stressed during the embryo stage. Results, finally, indicated that hypothalamus–pituitary–interrenal axis was active and responded to an acute stressor under normal and high density, but it is unresponsive to a stressor around hatching under low density.


Cortisol Stress Density Embryo Incubation Rainbow trout 



This work was financially supported by a research grant of Khorramshahr University of Marine Science and Technology. We thank all the members of the Shahid Motahari Coldwater Fish Genetic and Breeding Research Center, Yasouj, Iran for supplying the experimental eggs and rearing facilities and also the microbiology laboratory, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tehran for kind assistance in the cortisol measurement. Also special thank to G. Van Der Kraak for some comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gholamreza Ghaedi
    • 1
  • Bahram Falahatkar
    • 2
  • Vahid Yavari
    • 1
  • Mohammad T. Sheibani
    • 3
  • Gholamreza Nikbakht Broujeni
    • 4
  1. 1.Fisheries Department, Faculty of Natural ResourcesKhorramshahr University of Marine Science and TechnologyKhorramshahrIran
  2. 2.Fisheries Department, Faculty of Natural ResourcesUniversity of GuilanSowmeh SaraIran
  3. 3.Basic Sciences Department, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of TehranTehranIran
  4. 4.Pathobiology Department, Faculty of Veterinary MedicineUniversity of TehranTehranIran

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