Sodium and chloride transport in soft water and hard water acclimated zebrafish (Danio rerio)

A. M.Z. Boisen, J. Amstrup, I. Novak, M. Grosell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus citations


While the zebrafish is commonly used for studies of developmental biology and toxicology, very little is known about their osmoregulatory physiology. The present investigation of Na+ and Cl- transport revealed that the zebrafish is able to tolerate extremely low ambient ion concentrations and that this is achieved at least in part by a greatly enhanced apparent uptake capacity and affinity for both ions. Zebrafish maintain plasma and whole body electrolyte concentrations similar to most other freshwater teleosts even in deionized water containing only 35 μM NaCl, i.e soft water. We recorded an extremely low transport affinity constant (Km) of 8 ± 1 μM for the active uptake of Cl- in soft water acclimated fish, while other transport kinetic parameters were in agreement with reports for other freshwater organisms. While both Na+ and Cl- uptake in soft water clearly depends on apical proton pump activity, changes in abundance and possibly localization of this protein did not appear to contribute to soft water acclimation. Active Cl- uptake was strongly dependent on branchial carbonic anhydrase (CA) activity regardless of water type, while the response of Na+ transport to a CA inhibitor was more variable. Differential response of Na+ uptake to amiloride depending on acclimation medium suggests that different Na+ transport mechanisms are employed by zebrafish acclimated to soft and hard water.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)207-218
Number of pages12
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - Biomembranes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Dec 30 2003


  • Carbonic anhydrase
  • Osmoregulation
  • Proton pump
  • Rapid regulation of ion transport
  • Transport kinetics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Cell Biology
  • Biophysics


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