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Open Access Research article

Do anesthetics and sampling strategies affect transcription analysis of fish tissues?

Pål A Olsvik*, Kai K Lie and Ernst M Hevrøy

Author Affiliations

National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research, Nordnesboder 2, N-5005 Bergen, Norway

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BMC Molecular Biology 2007, 8:48  doi:10.1186/1471-2199-8-48

Published: 8 June 2007

Abstract

Background

The aim of the current examination was to evaluate if sedation and anesthetic treatment techniques affect the quality of RNA extracted from liver, gill, head kidney and brain tissues in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar L. Blood parameters were measured and tissue specimens sampled in six groups of fish; one control group (0 minutes), two groups kept in pure seawater in 90 liter tanks for 30 and 120 minutes, two groups treated with the anesthetic isoeugenol for 30 and 120 minutes, and one group kept in pure seawater for 105 minutes and then anaesthetized with metacaine for 15 minutes. RNA quality was assessed with the NanoDrop ND-1000 spectrophotometer (260/280 and 260/230 nm ratios) and with the Agilent Bioanalyzer (28S/18S ratio and RIN data) in samples either preserved in liquefied nitrogen (N2) or in RNAlater. In addition, the transcriptional levels of two fast-responding genes were quantified in gill and brain tissues.

Results

The results show that physiological stress during sampling does not affect the quality of RNA extracted from fish specimens. However, prolonged sedation (2 hours) resulted in a metabolic alkalosis that again affected the transcriptional levels of genes involved in ionoregulation and respiration. In gills, Na+-K+-ATPase α1b was significantly downregulated and hypoxia inducible factor 1 (HIF1) significantly upregulated after two hours of treatment with isoeugenol, suggesting that this commonly used sedative affects osmo-regulation and respiration in the fish. The results also suggest that for tissue preservation in general it is better to flash-freeze fish specimens in liquefied N2 than to use RNAlater.

Conclusion

Prolonged sedation may affect the transcription of fast-responding genes in tissues of fish. Two hours of sedation with isoeugenol resulted in downregulation of the Na+-K+-ATPase α1b gene and upregulation of the HIF1 gene in gills of Atlantic salmon. The quality of RNA extracted from tissue specimens, however, was not affected by sedation treatment. Flash-freezing of tissue specimens seems to be the preferred preservation technique, when sampling fish tissue specimens for RNA extraction.