Smoltification and Seawater Adaptation in Coho Salmon (Oncorhynchus Kisutch): Plasma Prolactin, Growth Hormone, Thyroid Hormones, and Cortisol.
The status of circulating growth hormone and prolactin during the parr-smolt transformation and during seawater adaptation of Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) was investigated in relation to changes in plasma levels of thyroxine, triiodothyronine, and cortisol, and in hypoosmoregulatory ability. Sampling (biweekly or monthly) occurred between early February and October. When peak hypoosmoregulatory ability was achieved (mid-April), one group offish was acclimated to seawater over a period of 18 hr and was sampled 1, 3, and 7 days after the introduction of fish to seawater and biweekly thereafter. Plasma prolactin levels rose steadily from the first sampling date to a peak of 15 ng/ml in early April, declined rapidly, and remained low until June when a second increase occurred. Prolactin declined to 2 ng/ml within 1 day of the beginning of seawater adaptation. Growth hormone increased twofold from February to late March, and achieved plateau levels of 20 ng/ml in the period from mid-April to July and then gradually declined to 10 ng/ml in September and October. Plasma levels of growth hormone in seawater-acclimated fish were similar to those of freshwater Coho, but with larger fluctuations; no increase was apparent during the first week of seawater acclimation. Plasma cortisol and plasma triiodothyronine increased at the same time as plasma growth hormone; increases in plasma thyroxine occurred later. In general, both growth hormone and cortisol levels were elevated when hypoosmoregulatory ability was high. Conversely, prolactin levels generally showed a negative relationship with hypoosmoregulatory ability.