The present study evaluated the effects of dietary β-glucan (0, 0.05%, 0.1%, and 0.2%) on growth performance after 42 days of feeding. Thereafter, rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were infected with Aeromonas salmonicida, and survival rates as well as the regulating processes of stress- and immune-related factors were analyzed. In general, higher dietary β-glucan levels obviously improved specific growth rate (SGR), weight gain (WG) and feed efficiency (FE) (P ≤ 0.05). Survival rates in β-glucan groups increased significantly compared with the control group after A. salmonicida infection (P ≤ 0.05). Serum total superoxide dimutase (T-SOD), peroxidase (POD) as well as catalase (CAT) activities, and their mRNA expressions in the head kidney of fish in the β-glucan groups generally increased to higher levels after infection, and more quickly, compared with in the control group. Serum lysozyme (LSZ) and its expression in the head kidney in β-glucan groups reached a higher peak earlier than in the control group.
Serum glutamic oxalacetic transaminase (GOT) and glutamic pyruvic transaminase (GPT) levels in the β-glucan groups were significantly lower than in the control group (P ≤ 0.05). The peak of heat shock protein 70 (HSP70) expression in the 0.2% β-glucan group was higher and occurred earlier than in other groups (P ≤ 0.05). These results confirm that 0.1% and 0.2% dietary β-glucan are beneficial for promoting growth in rainbow trout and enhancing resistance against A. salmonicida. Furthermore, β-glucan could play an important role in regulating stress- and immune-related factors in rainbow trout to more quickly fight against bacterial infection.