The presence of an interlamellar cell mass (ILCM) on the gills of goldfish significantly decreases the functional lamellar surface area and increases the diffusion distance for gas transfer and thus may impose a serious challenge for the transfer of respiratory gases (O₂ and CO₂). Here we tested the hypothesis that the presence of the ILCM in goldfish acclimated to 7°C impedes the uptake of O2 and excretion of CO₂. While Pa(O₂) remained unaltered, the baseline values of Pa(CO)₂ were significantly higher in goldfish at 7°C with ILCM present (5.55 ± 0.54 mmHg; mean ± SEM) than in goldfish at 25°C without the ILCM (3.98 ± 0.18 mmHg). Carbonic anhydrase (CA) injections relieved the apparent diffusion limitation imposed by the presence of the ILCM on CO₂ excretion (Pw(CO₂) levels dropped to 3.07 ± 0.32 mmHg). Interestingly, the exposure of fish to acute hypoxia evoked similar changes in Pa(O₂) at the two acclimation temperatures. Ethanol (EtOH) exposure was also used as a tool to further investigate the potential effects of the ILCM on branchial solute transfer. The results showed that the ILCM does not impede EtOH uptake in 7°C goldfish. Overall, the results of this study demonstrate that the remodelling of the goldfish gill associated with acclimation to 7°C water, while increasing Pw(CO₂) , has minimal impact on branchial O2 transfer.
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