New insights into the mechanisms controlling urea excretion in fish gills

M. Danielle McDonald, Kathleen M. Gilmour, Patrick J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Not long ago, urea was believed to freely diffuse across plasma membranes. The discovery of specialized proteins to facilitate the movement of urea across the fish gill, similar to those found in mammalian kidney, was exciting, and at the same time, perplexing; especially considering the fact that, aside from elasmobranchs, most fish do not produce urea as their primary nitrogenous waste. Increasingly, it has become apparent that many fish do indeed produce at least a small amount of urea through various processes and continued work on branchial urea transporters in teleost and elasmobranch fishes has led to recent advances in the regulation of these mechanisms. The following review outlines the substantial progress that has been made towards understanding environmental and developmental impacts on fish gill urea transport. This review also outlines the work that has been done regarding endocrine and neural control of urea excretion, most of which has been collected from only a handful of teleost fish. It is evident that more research is needed to establish the endocrine and neural control of urea excretion in fish, including fish representative of more ancient lineages (hagfish and lamprey), and elasmobranch fish.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-248
Number of pages8
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 2012


  • Carbon dioxide
  • Cortisol
  • Development
  • Elasmobranchs
  • Facilitated diffusion
  • Fluoxetine
  • Hypoxia
  • Salinity
  • Serotonin
  • Teleosts
  • Urea transport

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)


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