Effects of low temperatures and fasting on hematology and plasma composition of gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata)

M. Sala-Rabanal, J. Sánchez, A. Ibarz, J. Fernández-Borràs, J. Blasco, M. A. Gallardo

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Low temperatures, and the voluntary fasting that they induce, have been implicated in outbreaks of winter syndrome in farmed gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). Two experiments were performed with the objective of studying if a decrease in water temperature is sufficient to induce this disease or some of its associated signs. In the first experiment, water temperature was either acutely or gradually reduced to 8 °C. In the second experiment, fish were exposed to either 8 °C or 12 °C, or fasted at 14 °C. Although no mortalities due to winter syndrome were registered during any of the experiments, some of the signs described in affected sea bream were observed in 8 ° ;C-exposed fish. Among the most relevant were the paleness and friability of the liver and the occurrence of fatty degeneration in the hepatocytes. During the experiments, the general state of health of fish was monitored by measuring hematic parameters and the plasma concentration of proteins, glucose and ions. Low temperatures (8 and 12 °C) and fasting at 14 °C resulted in significant decreases in the levels of the different plasma protein fractions. This drop was more important in all the 8 °C-exposed fish, due mainly to a higher descent of albumin, aα1-globulins and fibrinogen. Moreover, 8 °C-exposed fish showed a fall in total white blood cells and a rise of plasma glycemia, as well as a significant drop of plasma potassium and calcium levels and a transient increase of plasma magnesium concentration. In 8 °C-exposed fish, the rate of water temperature descent did not modify the profiles of change of any of the studied parameters. These results indicate that at 8 °C gilthead sea bream are unable to maintain the levels of plasma protein fractions and ions present in control animals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-115
Number of pages11
JournalFish Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2003


  • Fish
  • Hematology
  • Plasma ions
  • Plasma protein
  • Winter disease
  • Winter syndrome


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