The regulatory role of glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors in pulsatile urea excretion of the gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta

Tamara M. Rodela, M. Danielle McDonald, Patrick J. Walsh, Kathleen M. Gilmour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Gulf toadfish, Opsanus beta, are one among a group of unusual teleosts that excrete urea as their predominant nitrogen end product in response to stressful conditions. Under conditions of crowding or confinement, fasted toadfish excrete the majority of their nitrogen waste in large pulses of urea (<90% of total nitrogen) lasting up to 3h. An earlier study demonstrated that cortisol has an inhibitory influence on urea pulse size. The present study tested the hypothesis that cortisol mediates changes in urea pulse size in ureotelic toadfish through the glucocorticoid receptor (GR) and not the mineralocorticoid receptor (MR). In vivo pharmacological investigations were used to manipulate the corticosteroid system in crowded toadfish, including experimentally lowering plasma cortisol levels by the injection of metyrapone, blocking cortisol receptors through exposure to either RU-486 (GR antagonist) and spironolactone (MR antagonist), or through exogenous infusion of the tetrapod mineralocorticoid aldosterone (tetrapod MR agonist). The data demonstrate that lowering the activity of cortisol, either by inhibiting its synthesis or by blocking its receptor, resulted in a two- to threefold increase in pulse size with no accompanying change in pulse frequency. Treatment with spironolactone elicited a minor (∼1.5-fold) reduction in pulse size, as did aldosterone treatment, suggesting that the anti-mineralocorticoid spironolactone has an agonistic effect in a piscine system. In summary, the evidence suggests that urea transport mechanisms in pulsing toadfish are upregulated in response to low cortisol, mediated primarily by GRs, and to a lesser extent MRs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1849-1858
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Jun 15 2009


  • Aldosterone
  • Cortisol
  • Glucocorticoid receptor
  • Metyrapone
  • Mineralocorticoid receptor
  • RU-486
  • Spironolactone
  • Toadfish
  • Urea excretion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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