Saiz, N., Gómez-Boronat, M., De Pedro, N. et al. 2021. The lack of light-dark and feeding-fasting cycles alters temporal events in the goldfish (Carassius auratus) stress axis. Animals 11(3), 669.
Vertebrates possess circadian clocks, driven by transcriptional–translational loops of clock genes, to orchestrate anticipatory physiological adaptations to cyclic environmental changes. This work aims to investigate how the absence of a light-dark cycle and a feeding schedule impacts the oscillators in the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis of goldfish. Fish were maintained under 12L:12D feeding at ZT 2; 12L:12D feeding at random times; and constant darkness feeding at ZT 2. After 30 days, fish were sampled to measure daily variations in plasma cortisol and clock gene expression in the hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis. Clock gene rhythms in the HPI were synchronic in the presence of a light-dark cycle but were lost in its absence, while in randomly fed fish, only the interrenal clock was disrupted. The highest cortisol levels were found in the randomly fed group, suggesting that uncertainty of food availability could be as stressful as the absence of a light-dark cycle. Cortisol daily rhythms seem to depend on central clocks, as a disruption in the adrenal clock did not impede rhythmic cortisol release, although it could sensitize the tissue to stress.