Osmoregulatory physiology of pyloric ceca: Regulated and adaptive changes in chinook salmon

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Functions of the anatomically obvious, yet peculiar, pyloric ceca of the fish gut have been a source of conjecture for over two millennia since Aristotle hypothesized on digestive utilities. Here, we demonstrate regulated and adaptive changes in osmoregulatory physiology of ceca from chinook salmon (Onchorhynchus tshawytscha). Transfer of salmon from freshwater to seawater (both short- and long-term) significantly stimulated both fluid uptake from 5.1 to 8.3-9.3 μl/cm2/hr and also Na+/K+-ATPase from 6.5 to 8.3-9.6 μmol/ADP/mg protein/hr. Similar changes were induced with implants of cortisol, which resulted in high physiological cortisol levels in plasma. Ceca, which can number about 200 in chinook salmon, were estimated to account for the majority of fluid uptake capacity of the intestine and, after long-term seawater adaptation, the proportion of uptake capacity was sixfold higher. Transport physiology of ceca is thus under environmental and endocrine control indicative of an important role in salt and water homeostasis. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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Journal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Comparative Experimental Biology