Ouabain inhibition of gill Na-K-ATPase: relationship to active chloride transport

J Exp Zool. 1977 Mar;199(3):419-26. doi: 10.1002/jez.1401990316.


Ouabain circulating in blood inhibits Na-K-ATPase in the gills of seawater eels at a concentration similar to that necessary for inhibition in vitro. By contrast, a much higher concentration is required when ouabain is applied to the exterior of the gill. Inhibition by external ouabain occurs only when the drug gains access to the circulation of the fish, as evidenced by simultaneous inhibition of Na-K-ATPase in the kidney. These results suggest that the Na-K-ATPase of gill chloride cells faces inward, lining intracytoplasmic tubular channels continuous with the extracellular fluid. Inhibition of gill Na-K-ATPase by ouabain in intact salt water eels results in almost complete inhibition of the efflux of both Na+ and Cl-. The efflux is tritiated water was much less reduced, to 60% of normal. Since chloride is actively transported outward across the gill of seawater teleosts, it is suggested that active chloride transport is coupled to Na-K-ATPase. A neutral sodium chloride carrier is postulated that is energized by the movement of sodium from extracellular fluid down its electrochemical gradient into the chloride cell.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Biological Transport, Active / drug effects
  • Chlorides / metabolism*
  • Eels / metabolism*
  • Gills / metabolism*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Ouabain / blood
  • Ouabain / pharmacology*
  • Potassium / metabolism
  • Seawater
  • Sodium / metabolism


  • Chlorides
  • Ouabain
  • Sodium
  • Adenosine Triphosphatases
  • Potassium