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Examining the relationships between egg cortisol and oxidative stress in developing wild sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka)

Taylor, Jessica J., Sopinka, Natalie M., Wilson, Samantha M., Hinch, Scott G., Patterson, David A., Cooke, Steven J., Willmore, William G.
Comparative biochemistry and physiology 2016 v.200 pp. 87-93
Oncorhynchus nerka, antioxidant activity, antioxidants, brain, cortisol, developmental stages, eggs, embryogenesis, fish, heart, liver, oocytes, oxidative stress, progeny, reactive oxygen species, tissues
Maternally-derived hormones in oocytes, such as glucocorticoids (GCs), play a crucial role in embryo development in oviparous taxa. In fishes, maternal stressor exposure increases circulating and egg cortisol levels, the primary GC in fishes, as well as induces oxidative stress. Elevated egg cortisol levels modify offspring traits but whether maternal oxidative stress correlates with circulating and egg cortisol levels, and whether maternal/egg cortisol levels correlate with offspring oxidative stress have yet to be determined. The objective of this study was to examine the relationships among maternal and egg cortisol, and maternal and offspring oxidative stress to provide insight into the potential intergenerational effects of stressor exposure in sockeye salmon (Oncorhynchus nerka). Antioxidant concentration and oxidative stress were measured in maternal tissues (plasma, brain, heart and liver) as well as offspring developmental stages (pre-fertilization, 24h post-fertilization, eyed, and hatch), and were compared to both naturally-occurring and experimentally-elevated (via cortisol egg bath) levels of cortisol in eggs. Oxygen radical absorptive capacity of tissues from maternal sockeye salmon was measured spectrophotometrically and was not correlated with maternal or egg cortisol concentrations. Also, naturally-occurring and experimentally-elevated cortisol levels in eggs (to mimic maternal stress) did not affect oxidative stress or antioxidant capacity of the offspring. We conclude that the metrics of maternal stress examined in sockeye salmon (i.e., maternal/egg cortisol, maternal oxidative stress) are independent of each other, and that egg cortisol content does not influence offspring oxidative stress.