New methods for the primary culture of gill epithelia from freshwater rainbow trout

C. M. Wood, B. Eletti, P. Pärt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Gill epithelia from freshwater rainbow trout can be grown in primary culture in Leibovitz's L-15 medium, by seeding freshly isolated gill cells on two successive days, from two different fish, directly onto permeable filter supports (DSI technique). This preparation allows the measurement of transepithelial resistance (TER) and exposure of the apical surface to freshwater, as in vivo. New culture methods were developed and evaluated, using TER as an indicator of epithelial integrity, in an effort to improve the utility of the preparation for proteomic and toxicological research. TER was not related to cell density or protein content in DSI epithelia. To eliminate bovine proteins, the 5% foetal bovine serum (FBS) normally required for epithelial development was replaced with trout plasma. While previously frozen trout plasma proved toxic, freshly collected heparinized plasma, provided by chronically cannulated adult trout, was not. The use of 5% fresh trout plasma supported a TER development curve identical to that with 5% FBS, a useful advance for proteomic research because foreign (bovine) proteins are eliminated. However, 10% plasma reduced TER development, and 100% plasma abolished it. The inhibitory effect on TER of high plasma levels was seen only early in epithelial development, and was exerted from the apical side, likely an effect on tight junction formation. Mature plasma-supplemented preparations mounted a TER rise in response to apical freshwater exposure comparable to that of FBS-supplemented epithelia. Yolk-sac fry extract was inhibitory to TER development, even in the presence of 5% FBS. Transfer of mature epithelia from 18 °C to 4 °C maintained stable TER and extended the useable lifespan by at least ten days, thereby facilitating storage of preparations for toxicity testing. A new method of growing epithelia, involving only a single seeding of cells from a single fish, directly onto filter inserts (SDSI technique), provided mature epithelia with much lower TER, a smaller TER response to apical freshwater, and lower cell density and protein content than DSI epithelia. These SDSI epithelia offer the advantage of multiple preparations grown directly from unique individuals for in vitro toxicity testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)329-344
Number of pages16
JournalFish Physiology and Biochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2002


  • Foetal bovine serum
  • Gill models
  • Mitochondria-rich cells
  • Pavement cells
  • Transepithelial resistance
  • Trout plasma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aquatic Science
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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