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Omnivorous fish species such as the common carp (Cyprinus carpio) are able to biosynthesise long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFAs) from plant oil PUFA precursors, but the influence of the amount and quality of the LC-PUFAs biosynthesised from these oils on the immunocompetence status of the fish has received little attention. This study aims to evaluate whether the conversion of PUFA by carp induces a sufficient biosynthesis of LC-PUFA to maintain a good immunocompetence status in this species. Six iso-nitrogenous (crude protein = 39.1%) and iso-lipidic (crude lipids = 10%) diets containing three different lipid sources (cod liver oil (CLO) as fish oil; linseed oil (LO) and sunflower oil (SFO) as plant oils) were formulated with or without β-glucan supplementation at 0.25 g/kg diet. Juvenile carp (16.3 ± 0.6 g initial body weight) were fed a daily ration of 4% body weight for 9 weeks and then infected at day 64 with the bacteria Aeromonas hydrophyla. No significant differences in survival rate, final body weight, specific growth rate and feed conversion rate were observed between diets. After bacterial infection, mortality rate did not differ between fish fed CLO and plant oil-based diets, indicating that the latter oils did not affect the overall immunocompetence status of common carp. Plant oil-based diets did not alter lysozyme activity in healthy and infected fish. No negative effects of plant oils on complement activity (ACH50) were observed in healthy fish, even if both plant oil-based diets induced a decrease in stimulated fish two days after infection. Furthermore, the levels of various immune genes (nk, lys, il-8, pla, pge, alox) were not affected by plant oil-based diets. The expression of pla and pge genes were higher in SFO-fed fish than in CLO ones, indicating that this plant oil rich in linoleic acid (LA) better stimulated the eicosanoid metabolism process than fish oil. In response to β-glucan supplementation, some innate immune functions seemed differentially affected by plant oil-based diets. LO and SFO induced substantial LC-PUFA production, even if fish fed CLO displayed the highest EPA and DHA levels in tissues. SFO rich in LA induced the highest ARA levels in fish muscle while LO rich in α-linolenic acid (ALA) sustained higher EPA production than SFO. A significantly higher fads-6a expression level was observed in SFO fish than in LO ones, but this was not observed for elovl5 expression. In conclusion, the results show that common carp fed plant oil-based diets are able to produce substantial amounts of LC-PUFA for sustaining growth rate, immune status and disease resistance similar to fish fed a fish oil-based diet. The differences in the production capacity of LC-PUFAs by the two plant oil-based diets were associated to a differential activation of some immune pathways, explaining how the use of these oils did not affect the overall immunocompetence of fish challenged with bacterial infection. Moreover, plant oil-based diets did not induce substantial negative effects on the immunomodulatory action of β-glucans, confirming that these oils are suitable for sustaining a good immunocompetence status in common carp.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: Fish & shellfish immunology
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