Morphofunctional ontogeny of the urinary system of the European sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax.Anat Embryol (Berl). 2005 Feb; 209(3):193-206.AE
European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) are euryhaline fish that tolerate wide salinity fluctuations owing to several morphofunctional adaptations. Among the osmoregulatory sites (tegument, branchial chambers, digestive tract, urinary system), little is known about the kidney and the urinary bladder. The present study describes the ontogeny of the urinary system (kidney and urinary bladder) and focuses on the progressive expression of the Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase in the cells of these ion-transporting epithelia. A structural approach has shown that two pronephric urinary tubules are already present at hatching while the urinary bladder starts to differentiate. The glomus, an ultrafiltration site, occurs at day 5 (D5). The opisthonephros differentiates at D19/25 from the pronephric collecting tubules, then it rapidly grows longer and becomes folded. Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase immunolocalization and transmission electron microscopy show that ionocyte-like cells line the urinary tubules and the dorsal wall of the urinary bladder from D2/D5 on. Tubule ionocytes present a basolateral-localized fluorescence. Ionocytes of the collecting ducts and of the dorsal wall of the bladder present a fluorescence distributed in the whole cytoplasm. Fluorescence becomes stronger in later stages, suggesting a progressively increasing functionality of the urinary system in active ion transports. This observation is closely correlated with the ontogeny of osmoregulatory abilities. In juvenile and preadult fish kept in seawater, osmolality measurements demonstrate that urine is isotonic to blood. At low salinity, urine is hypotonic to blood in both stages. The capacity to produce hypotonic urine increases during ontogeny, a fact that suggests an increasing involvement of the urinary system in osmoregulation. The occurrence and the progressive functionality of the urinary system during the ontogeny, along with those of other osmoregulatory sites, are major adaptations allowing the sea bass to live in habitats of variable salinity such as lagoons and estuaries.