Is urea pulsing in toadfish related to environmental O2 or CO2 levels?

M. Danielle McDonald, Kathleen M. Gilmour, John F. Barimo, Peter E. Frezza, Patrick J. Walsh, Steve F. Perry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


The neurochemical, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine; 5-HT) is involved in the regulation of toadfish pulsatile urea excretion as well as the teleost hypoxia response. Thus, the goal of this study was to determine whether environmental conditions that activate branchial chemoreceptors also trigger pulsatile urea excretion in toadfish, since environmental dissolved oxygen levels in a typical toadfish habitat show significant diel fluctuations, often reaching hypoxic conditions at dawn. Toadfish were fitted with arterial, venous and/or buccal catheters and were exposed to various environmental conditions, and/or injected with the O2 chemoreceptor agonist NaCN or the 5-HT2 receptor agonist α-methyl-5HT. Arterial PO2, as well as ammonia and urea excretion were monitored. Natural fluctuations in arterial PO2 levels in toadfish did not correlate with the occurrence of a urea pulse. Chronic exposure (24 h) of toadfish to hyperoxia was without effect on nitrogen excretion, however, exposure to hypoxia caused a significant reduction in the frequency of urea pulses, and exposure to hypercapnia resulted in a reduction in the percentage of nitrogen waste excreted as urea. Of toadfish exposed acutely to hypoxia, 20% pulsed within 1 h, whereas none pulsed after normoxic or hypercapnic treatments. Furthermore, 20% of fish injected intravenously with NaCN pulsed within 1 h of injection, but no fish pulsed after injection of NaCN into the buccal cavity. To test whether environmental conditions affected 5-HT2 receptors, toadfish were injected with α-methyl-5HT, which elicits urea pulses in toadfish. No significant differences in pulse size occurred among the various environmental treatments. Our findings suggest that neither the environmental conditions of hypoxia, hyperoxia or hypercapnia, nor direct branchial chemoreceptor activation by NaCN play a major role in the regulation of pulsatile urea excretion in toadfish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)366-374
Number of pages9
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - A Molecular and Integrative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Hypercapnia
  • Hyperoxia
  • Hypoxia
  • Nitrogen excretion
  • Opsanus beta
  • tUT
  • Urea transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology


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