, Volume 79, Issue 1, pp 77-86
Date: 24 Nov 2012

Hyposmoregulatory ability and ion- and water-regulatory mechanisms during the leptocephalus stages of Japanese eel Anguilla japonica

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We explored osmoregulatory ability and mechanisms of ion and water regulation in Japanese eel leptocephali. Tissue osmolality of leptocephali ranged from 360 to 540 mOsm/kg·H2O. Immunocytochemical observations revealed that Na+/K+-ATPase-immunoreactive mitochondrion-rich (MR) cells were distributed over the entire body surface of leptocephali. Using a fluorescent sodium indicator and the chloride test, we localized Na+ and Cl secreting sites at the apical region of cutaneous MR cells. To further examine drinking behavior and water absorption in the intestine, leptocephali were exposed to seawater containing dextran labeled with Alexa Fluor. To calculate relative water absorption, fluorescent intensity was measured along the digestive tract. Whereas water was hardly absorbed in the stomach and intestine, water absorption predominantly took place in the rectum. Our findings indicate that Japanese eel exert hyposmoregulatory ability as early as during leptocephalus stages, secreting Na+ and Cl through cutaneous MR cells and primarily absorbing water from ingested seawater in the rectum.