Hypometabolism in reptiles: behavioural and physiological mechanisms that reduce aerobic demands

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2004 Aug 12;141(3):261-71. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2004.03.012.


During exposure to hypoxia all vertebrates utilize a suite of cardiovascular and ventilatory responses that, in combination, strive to maintain adequate delivery of oxygen to the metabolizing tissues. In addition to maintaining oxygen delivery through cardio-respiratory responses, oxygen demands in the tissues can also be reduced. Reptiles use this alternative strategy during periods of moderate to severe hypoxia by behavioural reductions in preferred body temperature and by active down-regulation of aerobic metabolism. Below we review these two different strategies and discuss their possible mechanisms and physiological significance.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology*
  • Body Temperature / physiology
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Models, Cardiovascular
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Reptiles / physiology*
  • Respiratory Mechanics / physiology*
  • Vagus Nerve / physiology


  • Oxygen