Stress and innate immunity in carp: corticosteroid receptors and pro-inflammatory cytokines

H.H. Stolte, S.B. Nabuurs, N.R. Bury, A. Sturm, G. Flik, H.F.J. Savelkoul, B.M.L. Verburg-van Kemenade

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80 Citations (Scopus)


The stress hormone cortisol is deeply involved in immune regulation in all vertebrates. Common carp (Cyprinus carpio L.) express four corticoid receptors that may modulate immune responses: three glucocorticoid receptors (GR); GR1, with two splice variants (GR1a and GR1b), GR2 and a single mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). All receptors are expressed as of 4 days post-fertilization and may thus play a critical role in development and functioning of the adult immune system. Immune tissues and cells predominantly express mRNA for GRs compared to mRNA for the MR. Three-dimensional protein structure modeling predicts, and transfection assays confirm that alternative splicing of GR1 does not influence the capacity to induce transcription of effector genes. When tested for cortisol activation, GR2 is the most sensitive corticoid receptor in carp, followed by the MR and GR1a and GR1b. Lipopolysacharide (LPS) treatment of head kidney phagocytes quickly induces GR1 expression and inhibits GR2 expression. Cortisol treatment in vivo enhances GR1a and MR mRNA expression, but only mildly, and cortisol treatment in vitro does not affect receptor expression of phagocytes. Cortisol has no direct effect on the LPS-induced receptor profile. Therefore, an immune rather than a stress stimulus regulates GR expression. Cortisol administered at stress levels to phagocytes in vitro significantly inhibits LPS-induced expression of the pro-inflammatory cytokines tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-¿) and interleukin-12 (IL-12) (subunit p35) and of inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) expression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-79
JournalMolecular Immunology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • dna-binding domain
  • fish glucocorticoid-receptor
  • early-life stages
  • cyprinus-carpio
  • common carp
  • teleost fish
  • functional-characterization
  • mineralocorticoid receptor
  • differential expression
  • trypanoplasma-borreli

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