We examined whether brain glucocorticoid receptor (GR) modulation by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) was involved in the abnormal cortisol response to stress seen in anadromous Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus). Fish treated with Aroclor 1254 (0, 1, 10, and 100 mg/kg body mass) were maintained for 5 mo without feeding in the winter to mimic their seasonal fasting cycle, whereas a fed group with 0 and 100 mg/kg Aroclor was maintained for comparison. Fasting elevated plasma cortisol levels and brain GR content but depressed heat shock protein 90 (hsp90) and interrenal cortisol production capacity. Exposure of fasted fish to Aroclor 1254 resulted in a dose-dependent increase in brain total PCB content. This accumulation in fish with high PCB dose was threefold higher in fasted fish compared with fed fish. PCBs depressed plasma cortisol levels but did not affect in vitro interrenal cortisol production capacity in fasted charr. At high PCB dose, the brain GR content was significantly lower in the fasted fish and this corresponded with a lower brain hsp70 and hsp90 content. The elevation of plasma cortisol levels and upregulation of brain GR content may be an important adaptation to extended fasting in anadromous Arctic charr, and this response was disrupted by PCBs. Taken together, the hypothalamus-pituitary- interrenal axis is a target for PCB impact during winter emaciation in anadromous Arctic charr.
Additional Publication Details
PCB disruption of the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis involves brain glucocorticoid receptor downregulation in anadromous Arctic charr
American Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology