Mechanisms of ion uptake by freshwater (FW) fish have received considerable attention over the past 80 years. Through an assortment of techniques incorporating whole animal physiology, electrophysiology and molecular biological approaches, three models have been proposed to account for Na(+) uptake. (1) Direct exchange of Na(+) and H(+) via one or more types of Na(+)/H(+) exchanger (slc9), (2) uptake of Na(+) through epithelial Na(+) channels energized by an electrical gradient created by H(+)-ATPase and (3) Na(+)/Cl(-) co-transport (slc12). While each mechanism is supported at least in part by theoretical or experimental data, there are several outstanding questions that have not yet been fully resolved. Furthermore, there are few details concerning how these Na(+) uptake mechanisms are fine tuned in response to the fluctuating FW environments. In this review, we summarize the current understanding of these three Na(+) uptake mechanisms and discuss their regulation by endocrine (cortisol and prolactin) and neurohumoral (catecholamines) factors.
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