Alkaline tide and nitrogen conservation after feeding in an elasmobranch (Squalus acanthias)

Chris M. Wood, Makiko Kajimura, Thomas P. Mommsen, Patrick J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


We investigated the consequences of feeding for acid-base balance, nitrogen excretion, blood metabolites and osmoregulation in the Pacific spiny dogfish. Sharks that had been starved for 7 days were surgically fitted with indwelling stomach tubes for gastric feeding and blood catheters for repetitive blood sampling and were confined in chambers, allowing measurement of ammonia-N and urea-N fluxes. The experimental meal infused via the stomach tube consisted of flatfish muscle (2% of body mass) suspended in saline (4% of body mass total volume). Control animals received only saline (4% of body mass). Feeding resulted in a marked rise in both arterial and venous pH and HCO 3- concentrations at 3-9 h after the meal, with attenuation by 17 h. Venous ṖO2 also fell. As there were negligible changes in ṖCO2, the response was interpreted as an alkaline tide without respiratory compensation, associated with elevated gastric acid secretion. Urea-N excretion, which comprised >90% of the total, was unaffected, while ammonia-N excretion was very slightly elevated, amounting to <3% of the total-N in the meal over 45 h. Plasma ammonia-N rose slightly. Plasma urea-N, TMAO-N and glucose concentrations remained unchanged, while free amino acid and β-hydroxybutyrate levels exhibited modest declines. Plasma osmolality was persistently elevated after the meal relative to controls, partially explained by a significant rise in plasma Cl-. This marked post-prandial conservation of nitrogen is interpreted as reflecting the needs for urea synthesis for osmoregulation and protein growth in animals that are severely N-limited due to their sporadic and opportunistic feeding lifestyle in nature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2693-2705
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Ammonia
  • Gastric acid secretion
  • Metabolic alkalosis
  • Osmolality
  • Shark
  • Urea

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)


Dive into the research topics of 'Alkaline tide and nitrogen conservation after feeding in an elasmobranch (Squalus acanthias)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this