The effects of sustained aerobic swimming on osmoregulatory pathways in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts

A. J. Esbaugh, T. Kristensen, H. Takle, M. Grosell

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Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts were exposed to one of the four different aerobic exercise regimens for 10 weeks followed by a 1 week final smoltification period in fresh water and a subsequent eight-day seawater transfer period. Samples of gill and intestinal tissue were taken at each time point and gene expression was used to assess the effects of exercise training on both branchial and intestinal osmoregulatory pathways. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis revealed that exercise training up-regulated the expression of seawater relevant genes in the gills of S. salar smolts, including Na+, K+ ATPase (nka) subunit α1b, the Na+, K+, 2 Cl- co-transporter (nkcc1) and cftr channel. These findings suggest that aerobic exercise stimulates expression of seawater ion transport pathways that may act to shift the seawater transfer window for S. salar smolts. Aerobic exercise also appeared to stimulate freshwater ion uptake mechanisms probably associated with an osmorespiratory compromise related to increased exercise. No differences were observed in plasma Na+ and Cl- concentrations as a consequence of exercise treatment, but plasma Na+ was lower during the final smoltification period in all treatments. No effects of exercise were observed for intestinal nkcc2, nor the Mg2+ transporters slc41a2 and transient receptor protein M7 (trpm7); however, expression of both Mg2+ transporters was affected by salinity transfer suggesting a dynamic role in Mg2+ homeostasis in fishes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1355-1368
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Nov 1 2014


  • Anadromous
  • Intestine
  • Ion balance
  • Ionocytes
  • Magnesium homeostasis
  • Water balance


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