The neuroendocrine-stress axis of nonmammalian species is evolutionarily conserved, which makes them useful to serve as important model systems for elucidating the function of the vertebrate stress response. The involvement of hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis hormones in regulation of stress and reproduction is well described in different vertebrates. However, the stress response is a complex process, which appears to be controlled by a number of neurochemicals in association with hypothalamo-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis or independent of HPI axis in fish. In recent years, the participation of neurohormones other than HPI axis in regulation of stress and reproduction is gaining more attention. This review mainly focuses on the involvement of functional neuroanatomical systems such as the catecholaminergic neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and opioid peptides in regulation of the stress-reproductive axis in fish. Occurrences of DA and opioid peptides like β-endorphin, enkephalins, dynorphin, and endomorphins have been demonstrated in fish brain, and diverse roles such as pain modulation, social behaviour and reproduction are implicated for these hormones. Neuroanatomical studies using retrograde tracing, immunohistochemical staining and lesion methods have demonstrated that the neurons originating in the preoptic region and the nucleus lateralis tuberis directly innervate the pituitary gland and, therefore, the hypophysiotrophic role of these hormones. In addition, heightened synthetic and secretory activity of the opioidergic and the dopaminergic neurons in hypothalamic areas of the brain during stress exposure suggest potentially intricate relationship with the stress-reproductive axis in fish. Current evidence in early vertebrates like fish provides a novel insight into the underlying neuroendocrine mechanisms as additional pathways along the stress-reproductive axis that seem to be conserved during the course of evolution.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.