This study reports for the first time on European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax (L.), larvae, the effect of different levels of dietary arachidonic acid (ARA; 20:4n-6) on the expression of genes related to the fish stress response. Copies of mRNA from genes related to steroidogenesis [StAR (steroidogenic acute regulatory protein), c-Fos, and CYP11β (11β-hydroxylase gene)], glucocorticoid receptor complex [GR (glucocorticoid receptor) and HSP (heat shock proteins) 70 and 90) and antioxidative stress (catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and glutathione peroxidase] were quantified. Eighteen day-old larvae were fed for 14 days with three experimental diets with increasing levels of ARA (0.3, 0.6 and 1.2% d.w.) and similar levels of docosahexaenoic (22:6n-3) and eicosapentaenoic (20:5n-3) acids (5 and 3%, respectively). The quantification of stress-related genes transcripts was conducted by One-Step TaqMan real time RT-PCR with the standard curve method (absolute quantification). Increase dietary levels of ARA induced a significantly (p < 0.05) down-regulation of genes related to cortisol synthesis, such as StAR and CYP11β and up-regulated genes related to glucocorticoid receptor complex, such as HSP70 and GR. No effects were observed on antioxidant enzymes gene expression. These results revealed the regulatory role of dietary ARA on the expression of stress-related genes in European sea bass larvae.
Keywords: Arachidonic acid; Dicentrarchus labrax; Glucocorticoid receptor; HSP; Stress.