To clarify the relationships between growth, endocrine status and habitat characteristics in Japanese eel (Anguilla japonica), plasma and stomach mRNA levels of ghrelin were examined in wild eels captured in the river and the bay, and in cultured eels during and after experimental fasting. Wild juvenile eels captured in freshwater habitats within the river showed significantly higher plasma and stomach mRNA levels of ghrelin than did fish obtained from brackish-water habitats within the bay. In cultured eels experimentally fasted for 4 weeks, plasma and stomach mRNA levels of ghrelin increased. After refeeding, the both parameters returned to the levels observed in continuously feeding control fish. In pigmented elvers, 2 months of feed restriction resulted in a significant increase in whole-body ghrelin mRNA. It is suggested that interaction between ghrelin and feeding is related to their habitats through differential food acquisition in fresh and brackish water environments.
Key Words: Cortisol, Food acquisition, Ghrelin, Growth hormone, Insulin-like growth factor, Japanese eel