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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2011

CRF and urotensin I effects on aggression and anxiety-like behavior in rainbow trout

Backström, Tobias; Pettersson, Andreas; Johansson, Viktoria; Winberg, Svante


Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) is central in the stress response but also modulates several behaviors including anxiety-related behaviors and aggression. In this study, juvenile rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were tested for competitive ability, determined during dyadic fights for dominance, after intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) administration of CRF, urotensin I (UI), the non-specific CRF antagonist alpha-helical RF(9-41) (ahCRF) or the CRF receptor subtype 1-specific antagonist antalarmin, when paired with a mass-matched con-specific injected with saline. In addition, isolated fish received the same substances. Plasma cortisol and brain monoamines were monitored in all fish. Most fish receiving CRF showed a conspicuous behavior consisting of flaring the opercula, opening the mouth and violent shaking of the head from side to side. When this occurred, the fish immediately forfeited the fight. Similar behavior was observed in most fish receiving UI but no effect on outcome of dyadic fights was noted. This behavior seems similar to non-ambulatory motor activity seen in rats and could be anxiety related. Furthermore, fish receiving CRF at a dose of 1000. ng became subordinate, whereas all other treatments had no effects on the outcome of dyadic fights. In addition, isolated fish receiving ahCRF had lower brain stem concentrations of 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid, serotonin, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid and dopamine. In conclusion, CRF seems to attenuate competitive ability, and both CRF and UI seem to induce anxiety-like behavior.


aggression; anxiety; corticotropin releasing factor; cortisol; dopamine; dyadic fight; monoamine; urotensin I; UI; serotonin; stress

Published in

Journal of Experimental Biology
2011, volume: 214, number: 6, pages: 907-914

Authors' information

Backström, Tobias
Pettersson, Andreas
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Food Science
Johansson, Viktoria

UKÄ Subject classification

Fish and Aquacultural Science

Publication Identifiers


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