The ionoregulatory responses to hypoxia in the freshwater rainbow trout oncorhynchus mykiss

Fathima I. Iftikar, Victoria Matey, Chris M. Wood

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


We utilized the rainbow trout, a hypoxia-intolerant freshwater teleost, to examine ionoregulatory changes at the gills during hypoxia. Progressive mild hypoxia led first to a significant elevation (by 21%) in JInflux Na (measured with 22Na), but at 4-h inf lux hypoxia when Po2 reached ∼110 mmHg, there was a 79% depression in J InfluxNa. Influx remained depressed during the first hour of normoxic recovery but was restored back to control rates thereafter; there were no significant changes in JeffluxNa or J netNa. A more prolonged (8 h) and severe hypoxic (∼80 mmHg) exposure induced a triphasic response whereby Jinflux Na was significantly elevated during the first hour, as during mild hypoxia, but returned to control rates during the subsequent 3 h. Thereafter, rates started to gradually increase and remained significantly elevated by about 38% through to 8 h of hypoxia. A similar triphasic trend was observed with JeffluxNa but with larger changes than in J influxNa, such that negative Na+ balance occurred during the hypoxic exposure. Net K+ loss rates to the water approximately doubled. There were no significant alterations in ammonia excretion rates in either of the hypoxia regimes. Branchial Na +/K+-ATPase activity did not change during 4 h at Po 2 ∼ 80 mmHg or return to normoxia; H+-ATPase activity also did not change during hypoxia but was significantly depressed by ∼75% after 6 h of normoxic recovery. Scanning electron microscopy revealed that within 1 h of exposure to Po2 ∼ 80 mmHg, exposed mitochondria-rich cell (MRC) numbers increased by 30%, while individual MRC exposed surface area and total MRC surface area both increased by three- to fourfold. MRC numbers had decreased below control levels by 4 h of hypoxia, but surface exposure remained elevated by approximately twofold, a response that persisted through 6 h of normoxic recovery. Environmental hypoxia induces complex changes in gill ionoregulatory function in this hypoxia-intolerant species that are very different from those recently reported in the hypoxia-tolerant Amazonian oscar.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-355
Number of pages13
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2010
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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