Rh versus pH: The role of Rhesus glycoproteins in renal ammonia excretion during metabolic acidosis in a freshwater teleost fish

Patricia A. Wright, Chris M. Wood, Jonathan M. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Increased renal ammonia excretion in response to metabolic acidosis is thought to be a conserved response in vertebrates. We tested the hypothesis that Rhesus (Rh) glycoproteins in the kidney of the freshwater common carp, Cyprinus carpio, play a crucial role in regulating renal ammonia excretion during chronic metabolic acidosis. Exposure to water pH 4.0 (72 h) resulted in a classic metabolic acidosis with reduced plasma arterial pH and [HCO3 -], no change in PCO2 and large changes in renal function. Urine [NH4 +] as well as [titratable acidity-HCO3 -] rose significantly over the acid exposure, but the profound reduction (fivefold) in urine flow rates eliminated the expected elevations in renal ammonia excretion. Low urine flow rates may be a primary strategy to conserve ions, as urinary excretion rates of Na+, Cl- and Ca2+ were significantly lower during the acid exposure relative to the control period. Interestingly, renal Rhcg1 mRNA and protein levels were elevated in acid-exposed relative to control groups, along with mRNA levels of several ion transporters, including the Na+/H+ exchanger , H+-ATPase and Na+/K+-ATPase. Immunofluorescence microscopy showed a strong apical Rhcg1 signal in distal tubules. Taken together, these data show that renal Rh glycoproteins and associated ion transporters are responsive to metabolic acidosis, but conservation of ions through reduced urine flow rates takes primacy over renal acid-base regulation in the freshwater C. carpio. We propose that an 'acid/base-ion balance' compromise explains the variable renal responses to metabolic acidosis in freshwater teleosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2855-2865
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 15 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • Acid-base regulation
  • Carp
  • Cyprinus carpio
  • Ion regulation
  • Kidney

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Physiology
  • Insect Science
  • Aquatic Science


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