Effects of starvation and refeeding on growth performance and stress defense mechanisms of stellate sturgeon Acipenser stellatus juveniles from aquaculture
Acipenser stellatus represents a species of great economical interest due to its roe used for caviar production. Therefore, it has been intensively captured for decades and nowadays, this species is on the verge of extinction. As a consequence, Acipenser stellatus is intensively raised in fish farms. Aquaculture is focused on optimizing the feeding regime of juveniles. The aim of this study was to investigate if Acipenser stellatus can adapt to a starvation/refeeding regime by assessing the effects of this regime on growth performance, oxidative stress biomarkers and heat shock protein (hsp) gene expression in juveniles raised under aquaculture conditions. The juveniles were subjected to two starvation/refeeding regimes: a 7-day starvation period followed by 21 days of refeeding, and a14-day starvation period followed by 21 days of refeeding. The results had shown that the juveniles subjected to 7/21-day starvation/refeeding regime presented a complete compensatory growth, they were able to counteract the oxidative stress by enhancing activities of the antioxidant enzymes and they presented no significant changes in hsp gene expression. In contrast, 14/21-day starvation/refeeding regime negatively influenced growth performance, it induced a high level of oxidative stress that was impossible to counteract and it determined major changes in the hsp gene expression level in the liver of Acipenser stellatus. Thus, Acipenser stellatus seems to be able to adapt only to the 7/21-day starvation/refeeding regime that does not threaten the growth performance and the welfare of juveniles. Therefore, it could be useful to optimize the feeding practice in aquaculture production.
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