The objective of the present study was to investigate the effect of social status on the ability of rainbow trout to secrete the stress hormones, cortisol, and catecholamines. Rainbow trout were confined in pairs for six days to permit the formation of dominance hierarchies. An in situ saline-perfused posterior cardinal vein (PCV) preparation was then used to assess cortisol secretion or release of the catecholamine hormones, adrenaline and noradrenaline, in response to the inclusion of appropriate secretagogues in the perfusate. Fish identified as subordinate on the basis of their behaviour showed a characteristic elevation of circulating plasma cortisol concentrations when compared with dominant fish. When the interrenal cells were stimulated in situ with adrenocorticotropic hormone, subordinate fish displayed a significantly lower rate of cortisol secretion than dominant fish. However, social status had no significant effect on either adrenaline or noradrenaline secretion rates upon stimulation of the chromaffin cells in situ with acetylcholine. These results suggest that the chronic elevation of plasma cortisol associated with subordinate social status in rainbow trout reduces the sensitivity of the cortisol-secreting interrenal cells, presumably through negative feedback mechanisms.
- Social interactions
- Rainbow trout
- Oncorhynchus mykiss
- In situ perfused posterior cardinal vein preparation