Autonomic control of the heart in the Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus)

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  • Department of Biological Sciences, Zoophysiology
The Asian swamp eel (Monopterus albus) is an air-breathing teleost with very reduced gills that uses the buccal cavity for air-breathing. Here we characterise the cardiovascular changes associated with the intermittent breathing pattern in M. albus and we study the autonomic control of the heart during water- and air-breathing. The shift from water- to air-breathing was associated with a rise in heart rate from 27.7 ± 1.6 to 41.4 ± 2.6 min− 1 and an increase in cardiac output from 23.1 ± 3.0 to 58.7 ± 6.5 mL min− 1 kg− 1, while mean systemic blood pressure did not change (39.0 ± 3.5 and 46.4 ± 1.3 cm H2O). The autonomic control of the heart during water- and air-breathing was revealed by infusion of the β-adrenergic antagonist propranolol and muscarinic antagonist atropine (3 mg kg− 1) in eels instrumented with an arterial catheter. Inhibition of the sympathetic and parasympathetic innervations of the heart revealed a strong vagal tone on the heart of water-breathing eels and that the tachycardia during air-breathing is primarily mediated by withdrawal of cholinergic tone.

Original languageEnglish
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology - Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology
Pages (from-to)485-489
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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