Asynchrony of changes in tissue and plasma thyroid hormones during the parr-smolt transformation of coho salmon

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The relationship between plasma thyroid hormone concentrations and the thyroid hormone concentrations in selected tissues was examined throughout the spring during the typical course of parr-smolt transformation in coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) in fresh water and also in coho salmon moved prematurely to seawater. The thyroid hormones thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) were extracted from brain, liver, and muscle tissue. The T4 and T3 concentrations in the extracts and plasma were measured by radioimmunoassay. The peak in plasma T4 occurred in late April; however, the concentration of T4 in the brain and liver increased before levels of T4 in plasma increased. During the rise in plasma T4, the T4 content in muscle decreased. Plasma T3 concentrations were unchanged in March and April, but decreased in May. Transfer to seawater eliminated the late April peak in plasma T4 levels, indicating suppressed thyroid activity; however, the tissues of salmon in seawater contained more T3 than tissues of salmon in fresh water at this time. These findings indicate complex peripheral regulation of thyroidal status in this teleost and represent the first bridge between compartmental models of thyroid hormone kinetics and actual measurement of tissue pools of thyroid hormones in an ectothermic vertebrate. In summary, tissue concentrations of thyroid hormones did not echo plasma concentrations, indicating that thyroidal status cannot be inferred from plasma data alone. © 1992.

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General and Comparative Endocrinology