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Development of a microtitre plate indirect ELISA for measuring cortisol in teleosts, and evaluation of stress responses in rainbow trout and gilthead sea bream

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A microtitre plate indirect enzyme‐linked immunoassay (ELISA) was developed for measuring plasma cortisol levels in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss, gilthead sea bream Sparus auratus sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax and Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis. Covalink microplates pretreated with disuccinimidyl suberate were coated with bovine serum albumin (BSA) conjugated to cortisol‐3‐carboxymethyl oxime. After blocking with BSA, competition was started by addition of plasma samples and anti‐cortisol antibody raised in rabbit. Goat anti‐rabbit IgG conjugated‐peroxidase was added as second antibody and then incubated with orthophenylenediamine as substrate. Reaction was stopped with 0·1 M HCl and absorbance was read at 450 nm in an automatic plate reader. The standard curve was linear from the lower limit of sensitivity of the assay (c. 0·3 ng ml−1) to c. 3000 ng ml−1. Dose‐response inhibition curves using serially diluted plasma samples of four species consistently showed parallelism with the standard curve using cortisol. The ELISA satisfied the strictest criteria of specificity (cross‐reactivity of anti‐cortisol antibody with testosterone, progesterone and 17ß‐oestradiol was negligible, cross‐reactivity with cortisone, corticosterone and 11‐deoxycortisol, was 1·5, 1 and 0·1%, respectively), reproducibility (interassay CV <6%), precision (intra‐assay CV <4%), and accuracy (average recovery >98%). Plasma cortisol concentration in rested fishes was in the range of 5–30 ng ml−1. To physiologically validate the technique, changes in plasma cortisol concentrations were also measured in plasma of rainbow trout and gilthead sea bream following an acute 15 min chasing or 3 min air‐exposure stress, respectively. In both species plasma concentrations of cortisol, glucose and lactate rose significantly with respect to controls, showing concentrations similar to those reported previously for these species under similar stress conditions. Furthermore, gilthead sea bream chronically stressed by maintaining for 14 days under increased stocking density conditions also showed increased concentrations of plasma cortisol and glucose. These results validate the indirect ELISA technique developed for use in the evaluation of plasma cortisol concentration of at least four fish species.
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Keywords: ELISA; Senegalese sole; cortisol; gilthead sea bream; rainbow trout; sea bass

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Laboratorio de Fisioloxía Animal, Facultade de Ciencias do Mar, Universidade de Vigo, 36310 Vigo, Spain and 2: Departamento de Biología, Facultad de Ciencias del Mar y Ambientales, Universidad de Cádiz, 11510 Puerto Real, Cádiz, Spain

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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