Growth hormone endocrinology of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar): Pituitary gene expression, hormone storage, secretion and plasma levels during parr-smolt transformation

T. Ágústsson, K. Sundell, T. Sakamoto, V. Johansson, M. Ando, B. Th Björnsson

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A number of studies on the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), have reported changes in plasma GH during parr-smolt transformation, but there is a lack of information about the endocrinology of the GH system during this process. In order to elucidate the mechanisms underlying these changes in plasma GH levels during the parr-smolt transformation of Atlantic salmon, GH mRNA expression in the pituitary was studied together with total pituitary GH content, in vitro GH secretion rate and plasma GH and IGF-I levels. Atlantic salmon were kept in outside tanks, under natural condition from early February until late June. Approximately three times a month fish were killed and pituitaries and blood were sampled for investigation. Further, pituitaries were moved to the laboratory for in vitro GH secretion studies. The results show that the GH system is first activated by an increase in GH secretion rate, which leads to an increase in plasma GH levels and causes a drop in the total GH content of the pituitary. This drop in pituitary GH content is later reversed by an increased GH synthesis seen as an increase in GH mRNA expression. Maximal activation of the GH system is seen to occur in early May, when plasma IGF-I levels reach highest levels, after which a certain deactivation of the GH system takes place. The data show that plasma levels of GH are to a large extent regulated by the secretion rate from the pituitary, although changes in the GH clearance rate are also likely to take place and influence the plasma GH levels. The study further underlines the significant role that the GH-IGF-I axis plays in the parr-smolt transformation of the Atlantic salmon.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-234
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Endocrinology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 6 2001
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Endocrinology

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