The relationship between nutritional status and disease resistance in cultured salmonids can be affected by dietary manipulations. Careful attention to feeding levels may be important to avoid imbalances in nutrient levels that could ultimately impair a fish's ability to resist infectious microorganisms. In the current study, fish in three feed-level groups were fed an experimental diet either to satiation, 64% of satiation or 40% of satiation. A fourth group of fish were fed a commercial diet at the 64% of satiation level and served as controls. To evaluate certain indices of disease resistance in the test and control fish, a panel of assays was employed to measure humoral and cellular immune functions 30, 39 and 54 weeks after starting the dietary treatments. The panel included measures of blood hematocrit and leucocrit levels, plasma protein concentration and serum lysozyme and complement activity. Cellular analyses included differential blood leucocyte counts, NBT reduction and phagocytosis by pronephros macrophages and myeloperoxidase activity of pronephros neutrophils. No differences were observed in those indices between fish tested from the control-diet group (commercial diet fed at the 64% rate) and fish tested from the 64% feed-level group, except that fish fed the commercial diet had a greater concentration of plasma protein. Leucocrit values and plasma protein concentrations tended to increase among the experimental feed groups as the ration increased from 40% to satiation. More importantly, phagocytic activity by anterior kidney leucocytes was found to be inversely proportional to the feed level. Whereas the results of this study provide evidence that the salmonid immune system may be fairly robust with regard to available metabolic energy, the significant changes observed in phagocytic cell activity suggest that some cellular immune functions may be affected by the feed level.
Additional publication details
Effects of ration level on immune functions in chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha)