Cardiovascular responses to hypoxia in the hagfish, Eptatretus cirrhatus

Respir Physiol. 1992 Jun;88(3):373-86. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(92)90010-t.


Simultaneous measurements of cardiac output (Q), blood pressures and blood gases were made in the hagfish, Eptatretus cirrhatus, during exposure to hypoxia. The partial pressure of oxygen in the medium (PIO2) was reduced from 20.7 kPa to 8.0 kPa and then lowered to 5.3 kPa. At a PIO2 of 5.3 kPa there was a 40% increase in Q. Part of the increase may have been due to the increased activity of the animal at low PIO2. In recovery, when the animals were inactive, Q continued to rise to 160% of the control values. At 5.3 kPa, oxygen consumption (as determined by the Fick principle) fell to 29% of the normoxic value and was associated with increased branchial vascular resistance (Rg) and an increased diffusion limitation of the gills (Ldiff). Adrenaline increased heart rate and aortic blood pressures. Increased Rg and Ldiff could be provoked in normoxia by the injection of the beta-adrenergic blocking drug propranolol. We suggest that catecholamines may be involved in the tonic control of gill vasomotor tone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Pressure / drug effects
  • Cardiovascular Physiological Phenomena*
  • Cardiovascular System / drug effects
  • Hagfishes / blood
  • Hagfishes / physiology*
  • Oxygen / blood
  • Oxygen / physiology*
  • Propranolol / pharmacology


  • Propranolol
  • Oxygen