We studied the effects of acute external acidification on the acid-base status and plasma and red cell ion concentrations of lampreys. Mortality was observed within 24 h at pH5 and especially at pH4. The main reason for the high sensitivity of lampreys to acid water appears to be the large drop in blood pH: 0.6 and 0.8 units after 24 h at pH5 and pH4, respectively. The drop of plasma pH is much larger than in teleost fishes exposed to similar pH values. The difference in the plasma pH response between lampreys and teleosts probably results from the low buffering capacity of lamprey blood, since red cells cannot participate in buffering extracellular acid loads. Acidification also caused a decrease in both Na+ and C concentrations and an elevation in K+ concentration of plasma. The drop in plasma Na+ concentration occurred faster than the drop in plasma Cl concentration which, in turn, coincided with the decrease in total CO2 concentration of the blood.

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