Are cortisol and melatonin involved in the immune modulation by the light environment in pike perch Sander lucioperca?

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The pineal gland is the main organ involved in the transduction process converting environmental light information into a melatonin response. Since light environment was described as an important factor that could affect physiology of teleosts, and because melatonin is a crucial hormone regulating numerous physiological processes, we hypothesized that environmental light may act on both stress and circadian axes which in turn could influence the immune status of pike perch. Therefore, we investigated the effects of two light spectra (red and white) and two light intensities (10 and 100 lx) with a constant photoperiod 12L (8:00-20:00) /12D on pike perch physiological and immune responses. Samples were collected at 04:00 and 16:00 at days 1 and 30 of the experiment. Stress markers, plasma melatonin levels, humoral innate immune markers, and expression of key immune genes in the head kidney were assessed. Light intensity clearly affected pike perch physiology. This included negative growth performances, increase in stress status, decrease in plasma melatonin levels, and immune depression. Light spectrum had only little influences. These results demonstrate that high stress status may have impacted melatonin production and secretion by the pineal organ. The drop in circulating melatonin and the increase in stress status may both be involved in the immune suppression.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12573
JournalJournal of Pineal Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019



  • circadian axis
  • HPI axis
  • immunity
  • light environment
  • melatonin
  • pike perch

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