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Title: The African Lungfish, Protopterus dolloi, detoxifies ammonia to urea during environmental ammonia exposure
Authors: Chew, S.F.
Ho, L.
Ong, T.F.
Wong, W.P.
Ip, Y.K. 
Issue Date: Jan-2005
Citation: Chew, S.F., Ho, L., Ong, T.F., Wong, W.P., Ip, Y.K. (2005-01). The African Lungfish, Protopterus dolloi, detoxifies ammonia to urea during environmental ammonia exposure. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 78 (1) : 31-39. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: The African lungfish, Protopterus dolloi, was able to maintain a low level of blood plasma ammonia during exposure to high concentrations of environmental ammonia. After 6 d of exposure to 30 or 100 mM NH4Cl, the total ammonia concentrations in the blood plasma were 0.288 and 0.289 mM, respectively, which were only 1.7-fold greater than the control value of 0.163 mM. In addition, accumulation of ammonia occurred only in the muscle, but not in the liver. This was achieved in part through urea synthesis, as reflected by significant increases in urea contents in the muscle, liver, and plasma of the experimental animals. In contrast with plasma ammonia, the plasma urea concentrations of specimens exposed to 30 or 100 mM NH4Cl for 6 d increased 15.4-fold and 18.8-fold, respectively. Taken together, these results suggest that P. dolloi upregulated the rate of urea synthesis to detoxify ammonia during environmental ammonia exposure and that the increased rate of urea synthesis was fast enough to compensate for the rate of endogenous ammonia production plus the net influx of exogenous ammonia in these experimental animals. Simultaneously, there were increases in the rates of urea excretion in the experimental animals between day 2 and day 6 of environmental ammonia exposure. Interestingly, the rates of urea excretion in specimens exposed to 100 mM NH4Cl were lower than those exposed to 30 mM NH4Cl, despite the presumably greater load of ammonia to be detoxified to urea in the former situation. It would appear that P. dolloi was regulating the rate of urea excretion during ammonia exposure to retain urea, which might have some physiological functions under environmental stresses yet to be determined. There were decreases in the contents of glutamate, glutamine, and total free amino acids in the liver of the experimental animals, which indirectly suggest that a reduction in the rate of proteolysis and/or amino acid catabolism would have occurred that might lead to a decrease in ammonia production. Our results suggest that, unlike marine elasmobranchs and coelacanths, which synthesize and retain urea for osmoregulatory purposes, the ureogenic P. dolloi was adapted to synthesizing and excreting urea for the purpose of ammonia detoxification. © 2005 by The University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
Source Title: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology
ISSN: 15222152
DOI: 10.1086/422771
Appears in Collections:Staff Publications

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