Active behaviour during early development shapes glucocorticoid reactivity

Sci Rep. 2019 Sep 5;9(1):12796. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-49388-3.


Glucocorticoids are the final effectors of the stress axis, with numerous targets in the central nervous system and the periphery. They are essential for adaptation, yet currently it is unclear how early life events program the glucocorticoid response to stress. Here we provide evidence that involuntary swimming at early developmental stages can reconfigure the cortisol response to homotypic and heterotypic stress in larval zebrafish (Danio rerio), also reducing startle reactivity and increasing spontaneous activity as well as energy efficiency during active behaviour. Collectively, these data identify a role of the genetically malleable zebrafish for linking early life stress with glucocorticoid function in later life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryo, Nonmammalian / metabolism
  • Glucocorticoids / metabolism*
  • Reflex, Startle
  • Stress, Physiological
  • Swimming
  • Zebrafish / embryology*
  • Zebrafish / metabolism


  • Glucocorticoids