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J Exp Zool A Comp Exp Biol. 2005 May 1;303(5):345-53.

Effect of graded hypoxic and acidotic stress on contractile force of heart muscle from hypoxia-tolerant and hypoxia-intolerant turtles.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Pharmacology, Physiology, and Biotechnology, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island 02912, USA.


Previous studies have shown that isometric contractile force of in vitro cardiac muscle from the anoxia-tolerant painted turtle, Chrysemys picta bellii, decreases when anoxic and when acidotic. This study sought to define the thresholds for these responses in the isolated ventricular strips of the painted turtle and in the anoxia-intolerant softshell turtles, Apalone spinifera. The ventricular strips were exposed to HCO3- Ringer's solution equilibrated at P(O2) 156, 74, 37, 19, and 0 mmHg (45 min at each grade), at both pH 7.0 and at pH 7.8. Strips were also exposed to graded lactic acidosis with intervals between pH 6.8 and pH 7.8 at P(O2) 156 mmHg (softshell) or 37 mmHg (painted). In painted turtle strips at pH 7.8, force remained at control levels until it decreased by 30% at P(O2) 19 mmHg. No further significant decrease occurred at P(O2) 0. In contrast, softshell turtle muscle force did not fall significantly until P(O2) reached 0. When graded hypoxia was imposed at pH 7.0, strips from both species were more sensitive to hypoxia, but the softshell force decreased at a higher P(O2) than the painted turtle (P(O2) 156 mmHg vs. 37 mmHg), its force fell to a lower level at P(O2) 0 (22 % of control vs. 40 % of control), and unlike painted turtle heart muscle, softshell muscle did not recover fully. In summary, these data indicate that ventricular strips of the painted turtle are no more tolerant of hypoxia alone than strips from the softshell turtle, but that when hypoxia is combined with acidosis, the painted turtle heart muscle functions significantly better during the exposure and recovers more fully after exposure.

Copyright 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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