Bigger is not better: cortisol-induced cardiac growth and dysfunction in salmonids
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionJournal of Experimental Biology. 2017, 220 (14), 2545-2553. 10.1242/jeb.135046
Stress and elevated cortisol levels are associated with pathological heart growth and cardiovascular disease in humans and other mammals. We recently established a link between heritable variation in post-stress cortisol production and cardiac growth also in salmonid fish. A conserved stimulatory effect of the otherwise catabolic steroid hormone cortisol is likely implied, but has to date not been established experimentally. Furthermore, whereas cardiac growth is associated with failure of the mammalian heart, pathological cardiac hypertrophy has not previously been described in fish. Here we show that rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) treated with cortisol in the food for 45 days have enlarged hearts with lower maximum stroke volume and cardiac output. In accordance with impaired cardiac performance, overall circulatory oxygen transporting capacity was diminished as indicated by reduced aerobic swimming performance. In contrast to the well-known adaptive/physiological heart growth observed in fish, cortisol-induced growth is maladaptive. Furthermore, the observed heart growth was associated with up-regulated signature genes of mammalian cardiac pathology, suggesting that signaling pathways mediating cortisol-induced cardiac remodeling in fish are conserved from fish to mammals. Altogether, we show that excessive cortisol can induce pathological cardiac remodeling. This is the first study to report and integrate the etiology, physiology and molecular biology of cortisol-induced pathological remodeling in fish.
This is a Published Manuscript of an article published by Company of Biologists in Journal of Experimental Biology, available online: http://www.biologists.com/