The intracellular acid-base status of white muscle of freshwater (FW) and seawater (SW) -adapted rainbow trout was examined before and after exhaustive exercise.

Exhaustive exercise resulted in a pronounced intracellular acidosis with a greater pH drop in SW (0.82 pH units) than in FW (0.66 pH units) trout; this was accompanied by a marked rise in intracellular lactate levels, with more pronounced increases occurring in SW (54.4 mmoll−1) than in FW (45.7 mmoll−1) trout. Despite the more severe acidosis, recovery was faster in the SW animals, as indicated by a more rapid clearance of metabolic H+ and lactate loads.

Compartmental analysis of the distribution of metabolic H+ and lactate loads showed that the more rapid recovery of pH in SW trout could be due to (1) their greater facility for excreting H+ equivalents to the environmental water [e.g. 15.5 % (SW) vs 5.0 % (FW) of the initial H+ load was stored in external water at 250 min post-exercise] and, to a greater extent, (2) the more rapid removal of H+, facilitated via lactate metabolism in situ (white muscle) and/or the Cori cycle (e.g. heart, liver). The slower pH recovery in FW trout may also be due in part to greater production of an ‘unmeasured acid’ [maximum approx. 8.5 mmol kg−1 fish (FW) vs approx. 6 mmol kg−1 fish (SW) at 70–130 min post-exercise] during the recovery period. Furthermore, the analysis revealed that H+-consuming metabolism is quantitatively the most important mechanism for the correction of an endogenously originating acidosis, and that extracellular pH normalization gains priority over intracellular pH regulation during recovery of acid-base status following exhaustive exercise.

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