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Renal acid excretion contributes to acid-base regulation during hypercapnia in air-exposed swamp eel (Monopterus albus)

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  • Phan Vinh Thinh, Can Tho University
  • ,
  • Do Thi Thanh Huong, College of Aquaculture and Fisheries, Can Tho University
  • ,
  • Le Thi Hong Gam, Can Tho University
  • ,
  • Christian Damsgaard
  • Nguyen Thanh Phuong, Can Tho University
  • ,
  • Mark Bayley
  • Tobias Wang

The swamp eel (Monopterus albus) uses its buccal cavity to air breathe, while the gills are strongly reduced. It burrows into mud during the dry season, is highly tolerant of air exposure, and experiences severe hypoxia both in its natural habitat and in aquaculture. To study the ability of M. albus to compensate for respiratory acidosis, we implanted catheters to sample both arterial blood and urine during hypercapnia (4% CO2) in either water or air, or during whole-animal air exposure. These hypercapnic challenges caused an immediate reduction in arterial pH, followed by progressive compensation through a marked elevation of plasma HCO3- over the course of 72 h. There was no appreciable rise in urinary acid excretion in fish exposed to hypercapnia in water, although urine pH was reduced and ammonia excretion did increase. In the air-exposed fish, however, hypercapnia was attended by a large elevation of ammonia in the urine and a large rise in titratable acid excretion. The time course of the increased renal acid excretion overlapped with the time period required to elevate plasma HCO3-, and we estimate that the renal compensation contributed significantly to whole-body acid-base compensation.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Journal of Experimental Biology
Publication statusPublished - May 2019

    Research areas

  • Air-breathing fish, Arterial pH, Kidney, Metabolic compensation, Renal function, Respiratory acidosis, Urine

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