Fish metabolic allostatic dynamics, when animal present physiological modifications that can be strategies to survive, are important for promoting changes to ensure whole body self-protection and survival in chronic states of stress. To determine the impact of sequential stressors on pacu (Piaractus mesopotamicus), fish were subjected to two trials of stressful treatments, administration of exogenous dietary cortisol, and parasite challenge. The first experiment consisted of a two-day acute stress trial and the second, an eight-day chronic stress trial, and after both experiments, fish parasite susceptibility was assessed with the ectoparasite Dolops carvalhoi challenge. Physiological changes in response to acute trial were observed in glycogen, cortisol, glucose, osmolarity, sodium, calcium, chloride, potassium, hematocrit, hemoglobin, red blood cells and mean corpuscular volume, and white blood cell (P < 0.05), whereas response to chronic trial were observed in glycogen, osmolarity, potassium, calcium, chloride, mean corpuscular volume, white blood cell, neutrophil, and lymphocyte (P < 0.05). Acute trials caused physiological changes, however those changes did not induce the consumption of hepatic glycogen. Chronic stress caused physiological changes that induced hepatic glycogen consumption. Under acute trial, stress experience was important to fish to achieve homeostasis after chronic stress. Changes were important to modulate the response to stressor, improve body health status, and overcome the extra stressor with D. carvalhoi challenge. The experiments demonstrate that pacu initiate strategic self-protective metabolic dynamics in acute states of stress that ensure the maintenance of important life processes in front of sequential stressors.
Keywords: Acute stress; Chronic stress; Cortisol; Glycogen; Sequential stressors.