Evidence for a morphological component in acid-base regulation during environmental hypercapnia in the brown bullhead (Ictalurus nebulosus) Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Exposure of adult brown bullheads Ictalurus nebulosus (120-450 g) to environmental hypercapnia (2% carbon dioxide in air) and subsequent recovery caused transient changes in whole body net sodium flux (JnetNa+) and net chloride flux (JnetCl-) resulting largely from changes in whole body sodium influx (JNa+in) and chloride influx (JinCl-). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) revealed that the fractional area of chloride cells (CCs) on the interlamellar regions was reduced by 95% during environmental hypercapnia. During post-hypercapnic recovery, gill filament CC fractional area increased. The changes in JinCl- during and after environmental hypercapnia were closely associated with the changes in CC fractional area while the changes in JinNa+ did not correspond to the changes in CC fractional area. Transmission electron microscopy (TEM) supported the SEM observations of CC surface area changes and demonstrated that these changes were caused by covering/uncovering by adjacent pavement cells (PVCs). Lamellar and filament PVC microvilli density increased during hypercapnia while there was a subsequent reduction in the posthypercapnic period. These data suggest that an important mechanism of acid-base regulation during hypercapnic acidosis is modification of the chloride cell-associated Cl-/HCO3- exchange mechanism. We suggest that bullheads vary availability, and thus functional activity, of this transporter via reversible morphological alterations of the gill epithelium. The increase in density of PVC microvilli may be associated with sodium uptake and/or acidic equivalent excretion during acidosis.

publication date

  • June 1992