New developments on gill innervation: insights from a model vertebrate
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The fish gill is a highly specialized and complex organ that performs a variety of important physiological functions. In this article, we briefly review the innervation of important structures of the branchial region, such as the gill filaments, respiratory lamellae and pseudobranch, and discuss the physiological significance of this innervation within the context of homeostatic functions of the gill, such as oxygen sensing and ion regulation. Studies in zebrafish utilizing techniques of confocal microscopy and immunolabelling, with specific antibodies against neuronal markers, have recently led to the characterization of innervation patterns in the gills not attained with traditional techniques of histochemistry and electron microscopy. We will discuss the association of putative sensory nerve fibres with O2-chemoreceptive neuroepithelial cells and the implications of dual sensory pathways for cardiorespiratory and vascular control. In addition, the idea of the neural control of ion regulation in the gill based on the apparent innervation of mitochondria-rich cells, and the role of innervation in the pseudobranch, will be presented.
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