Glucose metabolism in fish: a review

J Comp Physiol B. 2012 Dec;182(8):1015-45. doi: 10.1007/s00360-012-0658-7. Epub 2012 Apr 5.


Teleost fishes represent a highly diverse group consisting of more than 20,000 species living across all aquatic environments. This group has significant economical, societal and environmental impacts, yet research efforts have concentrated primarily on salmonid and cyprinid species. This review examines carbohydrate/glucose metabolism and its regulation in these model species including the role of hormones and diet. Over the past decade, molecular tools have been used to address some of the downstream components of these processes and these are incorporated to better understand the roles played by carbohydrates and their regulatory paths. Glucose metabolism remains a contentious area as many fish species are traditionally considered glucose intolerant and, therefore, one might expect that the use and storage of glucose would be considered of minor importance. However, the actual picture is not so clear since the apparent intolerance of fish to carbohydrates is not evident in herbivorous and omnivorous species and even in carnivorous species, glucose is important for specific tissues and/or for specific activities. Thus, our aim is to up-date carbohydrate metabolism in fish, placing it to the context of these new experimental tools and its relationship to dietary intake. Finally, we suggest that new research directions ultimately will lead to a better understanding of these processes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / metabolism*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / administration & dosage
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism*
  • Digestive System / metabolism*
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis


  • Dietary Carbohydrates
  • Glucose