Characteristics of ionic transport processes in fish intestinal epithelial cells

Liviu Movileanu, Maria Luiza Flonta, Dan Mihailescu, Petre T. Frangopol

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


A general mathematical version of the cell model of a leaky epithelium for the NaCl absorption is presented, analysed and integrated numerically. The model consists in the adequate differential equations that describe the rate of change of the intracellular ion concentrations and are expressed in strict accordance with the law of mass conservation. The model includes many state variables representing ion concentrations, the cell volume, and membrane potentials. Ion movements are described by the Michaelis-Menten kinetics or by the constant field flux equation. In this paper, we model the intracellular ion concentrations, change in the cell volume, the transmembrane flux and membrane potentials of intestinal epithelium of both fresh water and sea water fish, and generate several simulations (in both the steady state and the transient state analysis) that appear to accord with prior experimental data in this area. For the ion movements of the sea water fish intestine, there were included a Na+/K+ pump, a K+-Cl- symport system, the K+ and Cl- channels in the basolateral membrane, whereas a Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter for NaCl absorption and K+ channels are located in the apical membrane. In the fresh water fish intestinal cells, the NaCl absorption is performed by two coupled antiporters Na+/H+ and Cl-/HCO3 - presumably responsible for the intracellular pH regulation. In this type of cells, Na+ and K+ channels are located within the apical membrane, whereas Cl- channels are located within the basolateral membrane. The osmotically induced water transport across the apical and basolateral membranes has been taken into account as well. The simulations plot the steady state values for membrane potential difference, short-circuit current and intracellular ionic concentrations using the magnitude of the transmembrane flux through the Na+/K+ pump and Na+-K+-2Cl- cotransporter, or the basolateral Cl- permeability as dependent variables. The model behaves appropriately with regard to several experimental studies regarding the hyperpolarization (sea water fish intestine) and depolarization (fresh water fish intestine) of the apical membrane potential and inhibition of the short-circuit flux with reduced NaCl absorption. The model is also used to make several analytical predictions regarding the response of the membrane potential and ionic concentrations to variations in the basolateral Cl- flux. Furthermore, maintaining conservation of both mass and electroneutrality and taking into account the osmolar forces is an important advantage, because it allows a rigorous analysis of the relationship between membrane potential difference, volume and flux. The model can be used in the analysis and planning of the experiments and is capable of predicting the instantaneous values of ionic fluxes and intracellular concentrations and of cell volume.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)123-140
Number of pages18
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 1998
Externally publishedYes


  • Computer simulation
  • Fish intestinal cells
  • Ionic transport mechanisms
  • The NaCl absorption model
  • The steady-state analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Applied Mathematics


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