Short-term homeostatic regulation of blood/interstitial fluid Ca2+ concentration by the scales of anadromous sea trout Salmo trutta L. during smoltification and migration

Leanna Jamieson, Angel Waters, Kaitlyn E. Ho, Harvey Y.S. Chan, Jacky T. Hung, Sarah E. Webb, Ching Man Chan, Alan M. Shipley, John G. Williamson, Jon Beer, Chevonne Angus, Andrew L. Miller

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The elasmoid scales of anadromous sea trout Salmo trutta L. represent a significant internal reservoir of Ca2+. Although more is known about long-term remodelling of scales in response to calciotropic challenges encountered during smoltification and migration, very little is known about the contribution made by scales to the short-term, minute-to-minute regulation of Ca2+ homeostasis in the extracellular fluid (ECF) during these phases of the life cycle. This gap in the knowledge is partly due to the technical challenges involved in measuring small Ca2+ fluxes around the scales of live fish in real time. Here, this study describes exfoliating, mounting and culturing scales and their resident cells from parr, smolt and adult sea trout from a freshwater environment, as well as from adult sea trout caught in sea or brackish water. All the scales were then examined using an extracellular, non-invasive, surface-scanning Ca2+-sensitive microelectrode. The authors quantified the Ca2+ fluxes, in the absence of any systemic or local regulators, into and out of scales on both the episquamal and hyposquamal sides under different extracellular calcemic challenges set to mimic a variety of ECF-Ca2+ concentrations. Scales from the life-cycle stages as well as from adult fish taken from sea, brackish or fresh water all showed a consistent efflux or influx of Ca2+ under hypo- or hypercalcemic conditions, respectively. What were considered to be isocalcemic conditions resulted in minimal flux of Ca2+ in either direction, or in the case of adult scales, a consistent but small influx. Indeed, adult scales appeared to display the largest flux densities in either direction. These new data extend the current understanding of the role played by fish scales in the short-term, minute-to-minute homeostatic regulation of ECF-Ca2+ concentration, and are similar to those recently reported from zebrafish Danio rerio scales. This suggests that this short-term regulatory response might be a common feature of teleost scales.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)17-32
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Fish Biology
Issue number1
Early online date22 Sep 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Sep 2020


  • blood/interstitial fluid [Ca2+]
  • parr Salmo trutta L. scales
  • scanning ion-selective electrodetechnique (SIET)
  • smolt


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