Applications and potential uses of fish gill cell lines: examples with RTgill-W1

In Vitro Cell Dev Biol Anim. Mar-Apr 2009;45(3-4):127-34. doi: 10.1007/s11626-008-9173-2. Epub 2009 Jan 28.


Gills are unique structures involved in respiration and osmoregulation in piscinids as well as in many aquatic invertebrates. The availability of the trout-derived gill cell line, RTgill-W1, is beginning to make impacts in fish health and toxicology. These cells are available from the American Type Culture Collection as ATCC CRL 2523. The cells have an epithelioid morphology and form tight monolayer sheets that can be used for testing epithelial resistance. The cells can be grown in regular tissue culture surfaces or in transwell membranes in direct contact with water on their apical surfaces. The ability of RTgill-W1 to withstand hypo- and hyper-osmotic conditions and their optimal growth capacity at room temperature, make these cells ideal sentinel models for in vitro aquatic toxicology as well as model systems to study fish gill function and gill diseases. RTgill-W1 support growth of paramyxoviruses and orthomyxoviruses like salmon anemia virus. RTgill-W1 also support growth of Neoparamoeba pemaquidensis, the causative agent of amoebic gill disease. The cells have been used to understand mechanisms of toxicity, ranking the potencies of toxicants, and evaluating the toxicity of environmental samples. These cells are also valuable for high throughput toxicogenomic and toxicoproteomic studies which are easier to achieve with cell lines than with whole organisms. RTgill-W1 cell line could become a valuable complement to whole animal studies and in some cases as gill replacements in aquatic toxicology.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Fishes*
  • Gills / cytology*
  • Gills / ultrastructure
  • Research