The effects of stress and starvation on brain levels of serotonin (5-HT) and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) were studied in Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus). Three experimental protocols were used to elucidate (1) the effect of stress in fish given food, (2) the effect of starvation, and (3) the effect of stress in fish deprived of food. In the stress experiments, fish were stressed three times a day over a four-week period, and in the starvation experiment the fish were starved for a four-week period. Stressed fish, whether given food or not, showed significantly higher concentrations of 5-HIAA, the main 5-HT metabolite, in both the telencephalon and the brain stem. The 5-HIAA/5-HT ratio (an index of serotonergic activity) was also significantly increased in the brain of stressed fish. In the telencephalon of starved fish, the 5-HT concentration was significantly decreased. However, starvation had no effect on 5-HIAA concentrations or 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios in either the telencephalon or the brain stem. These results suggest that stress increases brain serotonergic activity in Arctic charr, while starvation has no effect on the utilization of this transmitter system. It is suggested that stress could be a mediator of the increased 5-HTAA levels and 5-HIAA/5-HT ratios recently observed in low-ranking Arctic charr in a dominance hierarch.

This content is only available via PDF.