The role of the gastrointestinal tract in salt and water balance

Research output: Book/ReportBook

75 Scopus citations


Fish living in marine and freshwater environments face contrasting challenges in terms of maintaining salt and water balance. The present chapter summarizes and reviews much of what is known about intestinal water absorption, which is essential for survival of fish in marine environments, and the impacts of intestinal processes on integrative organismal physiology. Transcellular Cl- and Na+ absorption via parallel co-transport systems and anion exchange drive water absorption across the intestinal epithelium and leave behind high concentrations of Mg2+ and SO42- in the intestinal lumen resulting in fluids isotonic to the blood plasma but of unique chemical composition. High rates of Cl-/HCO3- exchange by the intestinal epithelium render the intestinal fluids alkaline and high in HCO3- and result in CaCO3 formation in the intestinal lumen. Rectal excretion of these precipitates and rectal fluids rich in HCO3- comprise a substantial base loss which along with salt gain from water absorption are compensated for at the gill where both NaCl and acid are excreted. Suggested directions for future studies in the area of intestinal contribution to osmoregulation are provided.

Original languageEnglish
PublisherUnknown Publisher
Number of pages30
StatePublished - Aug 25 2010
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

NameFish Physiology
ISSN (Print)15465098

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Physiology


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