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A perfusion study of the handling of urea and urea analogues by the gills of the dogfish shark (Squalus acanthias)

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Author(s): Chris M. Wood | Hon Jung Liew | Gudrun De Boeck | Patrick J. Walsh

Journal: PeerJ
ISSN 2167-8359

Volume: 1;
Start page: e33;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: Elasmobranchs | Thiourea | Acetamide | Perfused head | Urea retention

ABSTRACT
The branchial mechanism of urea retention in elasmobranchs was investigated using an in vitro isolated-perfused head preparation, as well as in vivo samples, in the spiny dogfish shark. Both in vivo and in control saline perfusions containing 350 mmol L−1 urea, calculated intracellular urea concentrations in gill epithelial cells were close to extracellular concentrations. Urea efflux to the external water fell only non-significantly, and calculated gill intracellular urea concentration did not change when perfusate urea concentration was reduced from 350 to 175 mmol L−1 with osmotic compensation by 175 mmol L−1 mannitol. However, when the urea analogues thiourea or acetamide were present in the perfusate at concentrations equimolar (175 mmol L−1) to those of urea (175 mmol L−1), urea efflux rates were increased 4-fold and 6.5-fold respectively, and calculated gill intracellular urea concentrations were depressed by about 55%. Analogue efflux rates were similar to urea efflux rates. Previous studies have argued that either the basolateral or apical membranes provided the limiting permeability barrier, and/or that a back-transporter on the basolateral membranes of gill cells is responsible for urea retention. The present results provide new evidence that the apical membrane is the limiting factor in maintaining gill urea impermeability, and raise the prospect that a urea back-transporter, which can be competitively inhibited by thiourea and acetamide, operates at the apical membrane.

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