Cardiovascular system of the blue crab Callinectes sapidus

J Morphol. 2002 Jan;251(1):1-21. doi: 10.1002/jmor.1071.


The circulatory system of adult blue crabs, Callinectes sapidus, was mapped by either injecting barium sulfate into intact animals followed by radiography or by resin corrosion casts (Batsons Monomer). Seven arteries arise from the heart. The anterior aorta exits from the anterior dorsal surface of the heart and gives rise to the optic arteries; these arteries supply hemolymph to the supraesophageal ganglion and eyestalks. The paired anterolateral arteries also exit from the anterior dorsal surface of the heart and supply hemolymph to the gonads, hepatopancreas, stomach, antennal gland, mandibular muscles, and the hypodermis of the anterior cephalothorax. The paired hepatic arteries exit the heart anteriorly and ventrally and branch profusely within the hepatopancreas. A smaller side branch, the pyloric hepatic artery, supplies hemolymph to the pyloric stomach and midgut. The smallest artery, the posterior aorta, branches off the posterior ventral surface of the heart; it joins with the inferior abdominal artery in the region of the second abdominal segment and these arteries supply hemolymph to the hindgut and abdomen. The largest artery is the sternal artery, which exits from the ventral surface of the heart; the ventral thoracic artery branches off the sternal artery and supplies hemolymph to the chelae, the mouthparts, and to each pereiopod. The present study shows that the circulatory system is highly developed, with arteries dividing into smaller capillary-like vessels that ramify profusely within individual organs. The return vessels, the sinuses, are discrete channels rather than random open spaces, as previously described. The present study refines and advances descriptions of the circulatory system and is discussed in relation to recent work on hemolymph flow in crustaceans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / blood supply
  • Animals
  • Aorta / anatomy & histology
  • Arteries / anatomy & histology
  • Brachyura / anatomy & histology*
  • Cardiovascular System / anatomy & histology*
  • Gills / blood supply
  • Heart / anatomy & histology
  • Liver / blood supply
  • Male
  • Thorax / blood supply