Distribution of systemic blood flow during anoxia in the turtle, Chrysemys scripta

Respir Physiol. 1989 Dec;78(3):383-9. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(89)90112-6.


Hypoxia causes a reflex redistribution of regional blood flow in mammals that maintains delivery of oxygen to vital organs such as the brain during periods of decreased oxygen availability. The present study was performed to test if this response is developed in lower vertebrates. Regional organ blood flow and arterial blood gases were measured during normoxia (room air) and anoxia (nitrogen breathing) in anesthetized turtles, Chrysemys scripta. Organ blood flow was measured by the distribution of radioactive microspheres injected into the left atrium. The concentration of the microspheres in the organ is directly related to the blood flow rate. By knowing the reference blood flow rate, the reference microsphere concentration, and the total counts in the tissue, the tissue blood flow rate can be calculated. Anoxia caused a redistribution of blood flow away from the kidneys and splanchnic bed to the brain. Coronary blood flow and skeletal muscle blood flow remained constant. Brain blood flow increased approximately 260%. Blood flow to the kidneys and stomach was reduced approximately 50%. Blood flow to the pancreas, small intestine, and liver decreased almost to zero. The observation of anoxia-induced reflex redistribution of organ blood flow in a lower vertebrate suggests that this mechanism could be characteristic of vertebrates in general.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Circulation*
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Microspheres
  • Regional Blood Flow
  • Turtles