New insights into fish ion regulation and mitochondrion-rich cells

Comp Biochem Physiol A Mol Integr Physiol. 2007 Nov;148(3):479-97. doi: 10.1016/j.cbpa.2007.06.416. Epub 2007 Jun 27.


Compared to terrestrial animals, fish have to cope with more-challenging osmotic and ionic gradients from aquatic environments with diverse salinities, ion compositions, and pH values. Gills, a unique and highly studied organ in research on fish osmoregulation and ionoregulation, provide an excellent model to study the regulatory mechanisms of ion transport. The present review introduces and discusses some recent advances in relevant issues of teleost gill ion transport and functions of gill ionocytes. Based on accumulating evidence, a conclusive model of NaCl secretion in gills of euryhaline teleosts has been established. Interpretations of results of studies on freshwater fish gill Na+/Cl- uptake mechanisms are still being debated compared with those for NaCl secretion. Current models for Na+/Cl- uptake are proposed based on studies in traditionally used model species. Many reported inconsistencies are claimed to be due to differences among species, various experimental designs, or acclimation conditions. Having the benefit of advanced techniques in molecular/cellular biology, functional genomics, and model animals, several new notions have recently been raised concerning relevant issues of Na+/Cl- uptake pathways. Several new windows have been opened particularly in terms of molecular mechanisms of ionocyte differentiation and energy metabolite transport between gill cells during environmental challenge.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Animals
  • Calcium / metabolism
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Chlorides / metabolism
  • Energy Metabolism
  • Fishes / metabolism*
  • Fresh Water
  • Gills / cytology
  • Gills / enzymology
  • Gills / metabolism*
  • Homeostasis
  • Ion Exchange*
  • Ion Transport*
  • Mitochondria / enzymology
  • Mitochondria / metabolism*
  • Osmolar Concentration
  • Seawater
  • Sodium / metabolism
  • Sodium Chloride / metabolism
  • Water-Electrolyte Balance*


  • Chlorides
  • Sodium Chloride
  • Sodium
  • Calcium