Effects of chronic exposure to dietary selenomethionine on the physiological stress response in juvenile white sturgeon (Acipenser transmontanus)

Sarah Patterson, Jenna Zee, Steve Wiseman, Markus Hecker
Aquatic Toxicology 2017, 186: 77-86
Selenium (Se) is an essential micronutrient, but at low concentrations can be toxic to aquatic organisms. Selenomethionine (SeMeth) is the primary dietary form of Se aquatic organisms are exposed to and is an environmental concern because it persists and bioaccumulates. White sturgeon (WS) might be particularly susceptible to bioaccumulative toxicants, such as SeMeth, due to their longevity and benthic lifestyle. Se exposure is known to have adverse effects on the physiological stress response in teleosts, but these effects are unknown in WS. Therefore, the goal of this study was to determine effects of dietary SeMeth on the ability of WS to mount a stress response. Juvenile WS were administered food spiked with 1.4, 5.6, 22.4 and 104.4μg Se/g dry mass (dm) for 72days. Lower doses were chosen to represent environmentally relevant concentrations, while the high dose represented a worst case scenario exposure. On day 72, fish were subjected to a 2min handling stressor, and they were sampled at 0, 2 and 24h post-stressor. Cortisol, glucose and lactate concentrations were quantified in blood plasma and glycogen concentrations were quantified in muscle and liver. Transcript abundance of genes involved in corticosteroidogenesis and energy metabolism were determined using qPCR. Under basal conditions, WS fed 104.4μg Se/g dm had significantly greater concentrations of plasma cortisol and lactate, and significantly lower concentrations of plasma glucose and liver glycogen, compared to controls. Corticosteroid 11-beta dehydrogenase 2 (hsd11b2) abundance was lower in WS fed 22.4 and 104.4μg Se/g dm, indicating less conversion of cortisol to cortisone. Abundance of the glucocorticoid receptor (gcr) was significantly lower in high dose WS, suggesting lower tissue sensitivity to glucocorticoids. The increasing trend in phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase (pepck) abundance, with increasing SeMeth exposure, was consistent with greater cortisol and glucose concentrations in high dose WS. Exposure to an acute handling stressor elicited a typical cortisol response, but the magnitude of the response appeared to be significantly lower than those typically observed in teleosts. SeMeth also did not appear to modulate the cortisol response to a secondary stressor. However, WS exposed to 22.4μg Se/g dm and sampled 2h post-stressor, had significantly higher concentrations of muscle glycogen compared to controls, indicating effects on their ability to utilize muscle glycogen for energy. Overall, the results indicate that chronic exposure to dietary SeMeth concentrations >22.4μg/g can affect cortisol dynamics and mobilization of energy substrates in juvenile WS.

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