Physiological and immunological responses of sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus during desiccation and subsequent resubmersion

PeerJ. 2019 Aug 2:7:e7427. doi: 10.7717/peerj.7427. eCollection 2019.


Desiccation is one of the extremely stressful situations experienced by aquatic animals, and sea cucumber usually suffers from desiccation stress during transportation without water. The present study was conducted to evaluate the effect of desiccation and subsequent resubmersion on physiological stress, oxidative damage, antioxidant status and non-specific immune response of Apostichopus japonicus, providing valuable information on the health management of sea cucumber culturing. Control and desiccation groups were set up, and each group has three replicates. After 1, 3 and 6 h of desiccation, individuals were resubmersed in aerated seawater for a 24 h recovery in three batches, which were represented as D1, D3 and D6, respectively. The results showed that glucose level in coelomic fluid of sea cucumber significantly decreased after desiccation, whereas lactate, cortisol and osmolality showed remarkable ascending trends. Thereafter, all stress parameters gently recovered towards normal levels as control group during 24 h resubmersion. The prolonged desiccation at D6 treatment induced the significant increases of malondialdehyde (MDA) and reactive oxygen species (ROS) contents, as well as relatively lower superoxide dismutase (SOD) and catalase (CAT) activities. During the period of desiccation and subsequent resubmersion, sea cucumber adjusted antioxidant defense to reduce the concentrations of MDA and ROS as a strategy for protecting against oxidative damage. Desiccation also had significant effects on non-specific immune parameters (total coelomocytes counts, TCC; complement C3; total nitric oxide synthase, T-NOS; lysozyme, LSZ; alkaline phosphatase, AKP) of A. japonicus, which could be recovered to some extent during resubmersion. In conclusion, less than 6 h of desiccation did not induce irreparable damage to sea cucumber, and was recommended for handling and shipping live sea cucumbers.

Keywords: Antioxidant defense; Apostichopus japonicus; Desiccation; Non-specific immune; Non-specific immunity; Oxidative damage; Stress response.

Grants and funding

This work was supported by the grants from the Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation, China (ZR2018LC021), the Project of Shandong Province Higher Educational Science and Technology Program (J18KA125), and the First Class Fishery Discipline Programme in Shandong Province, China. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.