Intrinsic contractile properties of the crucian carp (Carassius carassius) heart during anoxic and acidotic stress

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2011 Oct;301(4):R1132-42. doi: 10.1152/ajpregu.00372.2010. Epub 2011 Jul 27.


The crucian carp (Carassius carassius) seems unique among vertebrates in its ability to maintain cardiac performance during prolonged anoxia. We investigated whether this phenomenon arises in part from a myocardium tolerant to severe acidosis or because the anoxic crucian carp heart may not experience a severe extracellular acidosis due to the fish's ability to convert lactate to ethanol. Spontaneously contracting heart preparations from cold-acclimated (6-8°C) carp were exposed (at 6.5°C) to graded or ungraded levels of acidosis under normoxic or anoxic conditions and intrinsic contractile performance was assessed. Our results clearly show that the carp heart is tolerant of acidosis as long as oxygen is available. However, heart rate and contraction kinetics of anoxic hearts were severely impaired when extracellular pH was decreased below 7.4. Nevertheless, the crucian carp heart was capable of recovering intrinsic contractile performance upon reoxygenation regardless of the severity of the anoxic + acidotic insult. Finally, we show that increased adrenergic stimulation can ameliorate, to a degree, the negative effects of severe acidosis on the intrinsic contractile properties of the anoxic crucian carp heart. Combined, these findings indicate an avoidance of severe extracellular acidosis and adrenergic stimulation are two important factors protecting the intrinsic contractile properties of the crucian carp heart during prolonged anoxia, and thus likely facilitate the ability of the anoxic crucian carp to maintain cardiac pumping.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acidosis / physiopathology*
  • Adrenergic Neurons / physiology
  • Animals
  • Carps / physiology*
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Lactates / metabolism
  • Male
  • Models, Animal
  • Myocardial Contraction / physiology*
  • Stress, Physiological / physiology*


  • Lactates
  • Ethanol