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Prolactin and freshwater osmoregulation of juvenile chum Oncorhynchus keta and sockeye O. nerka salmon Neuman, H. R.

Abstract

The possible role of prolactin in the freshwater osmoregulation of laboratory reared juvenile chum (Oncorhynchus keta) and sockeye (0. nerka) salmon was investigated. Pituitary cytology indicated that prolactin cells of both species develop gradually during freshwater residence and downstream migration. During this time the prolactin cells increase slightly in size; the number of prolactin cell follicles also increases. Simultaneously, the intensity of cytoplasmic staining with erythrosin increases. Alternate day injections of 5 or 15 μg/g body wt prolactin (ovine) did not affect survival of chum fry in deionized water. Thirty micrograms per gram slightly increased survival while 60 μg/g decreased survival in deionized water. Prolactin injections prolonged, to a small extent, the survival of sockeye smolts in deionized water. Sockeye fry suffered only slight mortality after transfer from fresh water to deionized water. A prolactin dose of 5 μg/g did not alter this survival; however, doses of 15 μg/g or higher resulted in 40 to 70% mortality after 10 days in deionized water. Alternate day injections of 10 μg/g prolactin had no effect on plasma sodium concentrations of chum fry, sockeye fry, or sockeye smolts after transfer from sea water to either fresh water or deionized water. It is concluded, from histological and physiological evidence, that prolactin does not play an obvious role in the freshwater osmoregulation of juvenile chum and sockeye salmon. The possible role of prolactin in the spawning migration of adults is discussed.

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