Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 527–537 | Cite as

Evidences for involvement of growth hormone and insulin-like growth factor in ovarian development of starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus)

  • Yongjiang Xu
  • Bin Wang
  • Xuezhou Liu
  • Bao Shi
  • Kun Zang


Although gonadotrophins are major regulators of ovarian function in teleosts and other vertebrates, accumulating evidence indicates that the growth hormone (GH)-insulin-like growth factor (IGF) axis also plays an important role in fish reproduction. As a first step to understand the physiological role of the GH-IGF system in the ovarian development of starry flounder (Platichthys stellatus), the expression profiles of GH and IGF messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and plasma GH, IGF-I, estradiol-17β (E2), and testosterone (T) levels during the ovarian development were investigated. The developmental stages of ovaries were divided into five stages (II, III, IV, V, and VI) by histological analysis. The hepatosomatic index (HSI) and gonadosomatic index (GSI) values increased and peaked at stage IV and stage V, respectively, and then declined at stage VI. Pituitary GH mRNA levels decreased sharply at stage III and raised to top level at stage VI. The hepatic IGF-I mRNA levels ascended to maximum value at stage V and then declined significantly at stage VI. However, the hepatic IGF-II mRNA levels remained stable and increased significantly at stage VI. In contrast, the ovarian IGF-I mRNA levels increased gradually and peaked at stage VI. The ovarian IGF-II mRNA levels were initially stable and increased significantly at stage V until the top level at stage VI. Consistent with the pituitary GH mRNA levels, plasma GH levels reduced sharply at stage III and remained depressed until stage V and then raised remarkably at stage VI. Plasma IGF-I level peaked at stage V and then declined to initial level. Plasma E2 level peaked at stage IV and then dramatically descended to the basal level. Plasma T level peaked at stage V and then declined significantly back to the basal level. Based on statistical analysis, significant positive correlations between hepatic IGF-I mRNA and GSI, ovarian IGF-II mRNA and hepatic IGF-II mRNA, ovarian IGF-I mRNA and ovarian IGF-II mRNA, and plasma IGF-I and plasma T were observed, respectively. These results suggest that the GH-IGF system may be involved in the ovarian development of starry flounder; GH and IGFs appear to play distinct roles in the regulation of the ovarian development in paracrine/autocrine manners. These findings extend our knowledge of the roles of the GH-IGF axis on reproduction regulation in fish.


Ovarian development Growth hormone Insulin-like growth factor Starry flounder 



This work was supported by grants from the National High Technology Research and Development Program of China (2012AA10A413) and the China Agriculture Research System (CARS-50).

Compliance with ethical standards

All of the animal experiments were approved by the Animal Care and Use Committee of Chinese Academy of Fishery Sciences.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Sustainable Development of Marine Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Yellow Sea Fisheries Research InstituteChinese Academy of Fishery SciencesQingdaoChina
  2. 2.Laboratory for Marine Fisheries and AquacultureQingdao National Laboratory for Marine Science and TechnologyQingdaoChina
  3. 3.College of Fisheries and Life ScienceShanghai Ocean UniversityShanghaiChina

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