Electrical activity of caudal neurosecretory neurons in seawater and freshwater-adapted Platichthys flesus, in vivo

A. J. Ashworth, J. R. Banks, M. J. Brierley, R. J. Balment, C. R. McCrohan

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    This study examined the electrical firing activity of neuroendocrine Dahlgren cells in the caudal neurosecretory system (CNSS) of the euryhaline flounder in vivo. Intracellular recordings revealed generally similar activity patterns and membrane properties to those previously reported in vitro. To investigate the potential role of the CNSS in osmoregulatory adaptation, extracellular, multiunit, recordings compared the activity patterns of Dahlgren cells in fully seawater- and freshwater-adapted fish. The proportion of cells showing bursting (as opposed to phasic or tonic) activity was greater in seawater- than in freshwater-adapted fish, as was the Correlation Index, a measure of the degree of correlation between firing activities of cells recorded simultaneously from the same preparation. Acute transfer of fish from seawater to freshwater gill perfusion led to recruitment of previously silent Dahlgren cells and a reduction in Correlation Index; freshwater to seawater transfer increased the Correlation Index. Severing the spinal cord anterior to the CNSS led to an increase in overall Dahlgren cell activity. Electrical stimulation of branchial nerve branches providing input to the brainstem, or tactile (pinch) stimulation of lips or fins, led to a reduction in CNSS activity lasting up to 500s, indicating the presence of descending modulatory pathways from the brain. These results are consistent with a role for CNSS neuropeptides, urotensins, in supporting survival in a hypertonic, seawater, environment.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)267-275
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2005


    • Dahlgren cell
    • Electrical bursting activity
    • Flounder
    • Neurosecretion
    • Osmoregulation
    • Platichthys flesus


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