Gill lipid metabolism and unidirectional Na+ flux in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) after transfer to dilute media: The formation of wax alcohols as a primary response

Heinz J.M. Hansen, Martin H. Grosell, Per Rosenkilde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The present study investigated the mechanism involved when fish tighten their gill membrane after transfer to dilute media. Ten individually assayed eels adapted to fresh water (FW) and labelled with radioactive 22Na in the plasma showed mean exchange rates in equilibrium with ambient radioactive 24Na in FW at 70 μmol kg-1 h-1. Just after transfer to demineralized water (DW), the mean Na+ release rate went up to 120 μmol kg-1 h-1; after 24 h in DW it came down again and levelled off at 40 μmol kg-1 h-1 during a period of up to 2 weeks. During the same period the mean Na+ uptake rate was 12 μmol kg-1 h-1, i.e., the general picture in DW was a net Na+ loss. In another similar experiment, groups of three FW-adapted eels were incubated in vivo for up to 24 h with (14C) acetate added as lipid precursor to the ambient water. Incubation in FW showed about 20% of the total 14C-activity incorporated into gill lipids as (14C) wax alcohols (WA; octadecanol and eicosanol). This percentage went up to 50% shortly after transfer to DW and came down again to about 20% after 2 weeks in DW. Single eels labelled with 22Na in the plasma showed a statistically significant positive linear correlation of percentage (14C) wax alcohols with log [22Na efflux]. Based on the observed parallel between Na+ flux and gill lipid metabolism, it is suggested that the eel reacts at first to a loss of Na+ by synthesizing wax alcohols that can tighten the gill membrane.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-283
Number of pages7
Issue number1-4
StatePublished - Jul 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Eels
  • Eicosanol
  • Gills
  • Lipid metabolism
  • Octadecanol
  • Osmoregulation
  • Sodium flux

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Gill lipid metabolism and unidirectional Na<sup>+</sup> flux in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) after transfer to dilute media: The formation of wax alcohols as a primary response'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this