The effects of starvation and force-feeding on the metabolism of the Northern pike, Esox lucius L.

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Abstract

The effects of starvation and force-feeding on certain tissue and blood constituents were studied in the Northern pike, Esox lucius L. Starvation resulted in a reduction of liver and muscle glycogen and liver lipid. Blood glucose concentration and haematocrit were reduced, total plasma cholesterol levels were increased, while the levels of plasma free fatty acids (FFA), amio acid nitrogen and protein remained unaltered. No significant changes were observed in either muscle protein, muscle water or the response to amino acid loading during the starvation period.

The force-feeding of pike starved for 3 months resulted in liver lipid and muscle glycogen being increased to levels higher than those observed in freshly-captured fish. Liver glycogen, however, increased to values only slightly higher than those of starved animals. Furthermore, while force-feeding had little effect on plasma FFA or protein concentrations, blood glucose, plasma cholesterol and haematocrit returned to the levels found in freshlycaptured fish and those of amino acid nitrogen were higher.

The results indicate that pike are well adapted for periods of prolonged starvation and that hepatic and extra-hepatic lipid and glycogen stores serve for metabolic needs during food shortage, while body protein is conserved. The endocrine basis for these changes in the tissue and blood constituents is discussed.

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