A fall in blood pH was induced by intra-arterial infusion of HCl in seawater-adapted rainbow trout (Salmo gairdneri). The acute acidosis resulting from HCl infusion caused a short-lived decrease in plasma bicarbonate concentration ([HCO3-]) and an increase in arterial CO2 tension (PaCO2). Erythrocyte pH and bicarbonate concentrations were not significantly altered by the infusion of acid. Injection of acid did, however, stimulate a branchial net H+ efflux which could be primarily accounted for by a net uptake of bicarbonate equivalent ions from the environmental water. Acid infusion of animals pre-treated with the beta-adrenergic blocking agent, propranolol, induced a similar pattern of change in plasma acid-base status. However, the recovery of plasma pH and restoration of plasma [HCO3-] were slower than in animals infused with acid alone. Red cell pH fell significantly in the face of plasma acidosis in the beta-blocked animals. Erythrocyte [HCO3-] showed a similar pattern of change to that of erythrocyte pH. Branchial net H+ efflux increased to a lesser extent following acid infusion in animals treated with propranolol. We conclude that catecholamines released into the bloodstream during periods of acute acidosis may play an important role in facilitating branchial H+ efflux in seawater-adapted rainbow trout.

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