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Can't beat the heat? Importance of cardiac control and coronary perfusion for heat tolerance in rainbow trout

Journal article
Authors Andreas Ekström
A. Grans
Erik Sandblom
Published in Journal of Comparative Physiology B-Biochemical Systems and Environmental Physiology
Volume 189
Pages 757–769
ISSN 0174-1578
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 757–769
Language en
Keywords Autonomic nervous system, Adrenergic, Cardiac performance, Cholinergic, Critical thermal maximum, acute temperature increase, oncorhynchus-mykiss, thermal tolerance, swimming performance, force development, chinook salmon, blood-flow, fish, acidosis, hypoxia
Subject categories Biological Sciences


Coronary perfusion and cardiac autonomic regulation may benefit myocardial oxygen delivery and thermal performance of the teleost heart, and thus influence whole animal heat tolerance. Yet, no study has examined how coronary perfusion affects cardiac output during warming in vivo. Moreover, while beta-adrenergic stimulation could protect cardiac contractility, and cholinergic decrease in heart rate may enhance myocardial oxygen diffusion at critically high temperatures, previous studies in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) using pharmacological antagonists to block cholinergic and beta-adrenergic regulation showed contradictory results with regard to cardiac performance and heat tolerance. This could reflect intra-specific differences in the extent to which altered coronary perfusion buffered potential negative effects of the pharmacological blockade. Here, we first tested how cardiac performance and the critical thermal maximum (CTmax) were affected following a coronary ligation. We then assessed how these performances were influenced by pharmacological cholinergic or beta-adrenergic blockade, hypothesising that the effects of the pharmacological treatment would be more pronounced in coronary ligated trout compared to trout with intact coronaries. Coronary blockade reduced CTmax by 1.5 degrees C, constrained stroke volume and cardiac output across temperatures, led to earlier cardiac failure and was associated with reduced blood oxygen-carrying capacity. Nonetheless, CTmax and the temperatures for cardiac failure were not affected by autonomic blockade. Collectively, our data show that coronary perfusion improves heat tolerance and cardiac performance in trout, while evidence for beneficial effects of altered cardiac autonomic tone during warming remains inconclusive.

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