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Summary

The aim of this study was to assess plasma biochemistry parameters with the potential of being used as indicators of the nutritional status for healthy gilthead seabream juveniles. Triplicate groups of 18 seabream (body weight of 58 g) were kept unfed for 24 h, 7 or 14 days. Nine fish per treatment were then sampled randomly for blood collection and the following parameters analyzed in the plasma using standard clinical methods: glucose; protein; triglycerides; cholesterol; calcium; magnesium; inorganic phosphorus; alkaline phosphatase (ALP); aspartate aminotransferase (AST); lactate dehydrogenase (LDH); gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT); creatine phosphokinase (CPK); and lipase. Biochemical parameters showed lower variability among individuals than did enzymatic parameters. Plasma glucose, protein, cholesterol, calcium and inorganic phosphorus levels were inversely related to the duration of starvation. On the contrary, plasma triglycerides decreased significantly during the first week of starvation and remained stable in the second week. Plasma ALP, AST and LDH decreased significantly after 1 week of starvation and then remained constant. In healthy seabream juveniles, plasma glucose, protein, cholesterol, calcium and inorganic phosphorus are responsive to starvation and may be useful indicators of the nutritional status of the animals. Indicative baseline reference values for gilthead seabream juveniles starved for 24 h and held at optimum temperature are: protein, 3.7–4.9 g dl−1; cholesterol, 341–407 mg dl−1; calcium, 13.1–8.0 mg dl−1; and inorganic phosphorus, 10–14.2 mg dl−1. Plasma triglycerides, along with plasma enzyme activities, may be useful as indicators of short term starvation. For these parameters baseline values after 1 week of starvation were: triglycerides: 138–230 mg dl−1; ALP: 58–125 U L−1; AST: 15–127 U L−1; and LDH 61–677 U L−1. Plasma glucose is only responsive to longer starvation periods, remaining relatively stable during the first week of starvation, and ranging from 59 to 196 mg dl−1.