University of Calgary

Matt (Mathilakth) Vijayan

  • Professor
  • Tier I CRC Eco & Env Physiol
  • Integrative Cell Biology

Research Interests

My research program is focused on the cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in stress tolerance. Specifically, the goal is to discover novel cellular signaling molecules and transduction pathways activated by stressors, revealing hormonal regulation of these stress adaptive pathways, and the integration of these responses at the whole animal level to regain homeostasis. An overriding theme of my research is to understand the regulatory role of corticosteroids either alone or in conjunction with other endocrine pathways in allowing animals to cope with stress. Broadly the goals are to i) elucidate the pathways that are corticosteroid responsive and critical for developmental programming, growth and metabolism, ii) identify pathways that are sensitive to toxicants (critical window) during the early developmental phase, and iii) determine the long term, including generational, implications on growth and performance associated with endocrine disruption by maternal transfer of xenobiotics in fish. This is currently being explored using a combination of genomics (microarray) and proteomics approaches along with genetic manipulations, including gene knock down in zebrafish (Danio rerio). Most of the whole animal studies in my laboratory utilizes either rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) or zebrafish, while other whole organismal studies using different species of fish, with unique life history strategies, are carried out either in their natural environment or in controlled laboratory conditions with collaborating partners. I am also actively involved in developing chronic stress markers for monitoring the health of grizzly bears.

My research topics can be broadly categorized under:

Genomic and non-genomic corticosteroid signaling and stress adaptation

Endocrine disruption of the cortisol stress axis and their mechanisms of action

Maternal transfer of contaminants and generational effects

Development of molecular markers for detection of chronic stress/health status of wildlife

Graduate Students

Graduate Students
Erin Faught
Kady Lyons PhD
Chinmayee Das PhD
Andrew Thompson PhD
Marwa Thraya MSc
Chris Hooey MSc
Analisa Lazaro-Côté (cosupervision) MSc
Emily Cribb - (cosupervision) MSc
Dr. Patrick Gauthier  
Dr. Francisco Mora  

Selected Publications

  • Google Scholar Link
  • Best C, Kurrasch D.M., and Vijayan MM. 2017. Maternal cortisol stimulates neurogenesis and affects larval behaviour in zebrafish. Scientific Reports; 7: 40905 
  • Faught E., Henrickson L., Vijayan MM. 2017. Plasma exosomes are enriched in Hsp70 and modulated by stress and cortisol in rainbow trout. Journal of Endocrinology; 232 (2): 237-246.
  • Faught E, Vijayan MM, 2016. Mechanisms of cortisol action in fish hepatocytes. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B, 199: 136-145.
  • Vijayan, MM,  Walsh, PJ, Mommsen, TP. 2016. Endocrine control of metabolism: a tribute to Professor T.W. Moon on the occasion of his retirement. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B, 199: 1-3.
  • Faught, E., Best, C., and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. Maternal stress-associated cortisol stimulation may protect embryos from cortisol excess in zebrafish. R. Soc. Open sci., 3: 160032.
  • Nesan, D., and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. Maternal cortisol mediates hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal axis development in zebrafish. Sci. Rep., 6:22582. doi: 10.1038/srep22582.
  • Dores, R.M., Liang, L., Hollmann, R.E., Sandhu, N., and Vijayan, M.M. 2016. Identifying the activation motif in the N-terminal of rainbow trout and zebrafish melanocortin-2 receptor accessory protein 1 (MRAP1) orthologs. Gen. Comp. Endocrinol., pii: S0016-6480(15)30066-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ygcen.2015.12.031
  • Jorgensen, E.H., Bernier, N.J., Maule, A.G., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Effect of long-term fasting and a subsequent meal on mRNA abundances of hypothalamic appetite regulators, central and peripheral leptin expression and plasma leptin levels in rainbow trout. Peptides, pii: S0196-9781(15)00230-2. doi: 10.1016/j.peptides.2015.08.010.
  • Birceanu, O., Mai, T., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Maternal transfer of bisphenol A impacts the ontogeny of cortisol stress response in rainbow trout. Aquat. Toxicol. 168: 11- 18.
  • Philip, A., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Stress-Immune-Growth Interactions: Cortisol Modulates Suppressors of Cytokine Signaling and JAK/STAT Pathway in Rainbow Trout Liver. PLOS ONE 10: e0129299. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0129299.
  • Birceanu, O., Servos, M.R., and Vijayan, M.M. 2015. Bisphenol A accumulation in eggs disrupts the endocrine regulation of growth in rainbow trout larvae. Aquat. Toxicol. 161: 51- 60.
  • Melnyk-Lamont, N., Best, C., Gesto, M., and Vijayan M.M. 2014. The antidepressant venlafaxine disrupts brain monoamine levels and neuroendocrine responses to stress in rainbow trout. Environ. Sci. Technol. 48 (22): 13434-42.
  • Asiaei, S., Nieva, P. and Vijayan M.M. 2014 Fast kinetics of thiolic self-assembled monolayer adsorption on gold: modeling and confirmation by protein binding. J. Phys. Chem. B. 118 (47): 13697-703.
  • Best, C., Melnyk-Lamont, N., Gesto, M., Vijayan, M.M., 2014. Environmental levels of the antidepressant venlafaxine impact the metabolic capacity of rainbow trout. Aquat. Toxicol. 155C, 190­198.

Book chapters (most recent)

  • Vijayan, M.M., Aluru, N. and Leatherland, J.F. 2009. Stress response and the role of cortisol. In: Fish Diseases and Disorders,Volume 2, Non-infectious Disorders. Edited by J.F. Leatherland and P.T.K. Woo. CABI Press, New York. (In Press).
  • Hontela, A. and Vijayan, M.M. 2008. Adrenocortical toxicology in fishes. In: Adrenal Toxicology. Edited by P.W. Harvey, D. Everett and C. Springall. Taylor and Francis, Boca Raton, Florida, pp.233-256.


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