Respiratory and cardiovascular responses to hypoxia in the Australian lungfish

Respir Physiol. 1993 Nov;94(2):173-87. doi: 10.1016/0034-5687(93)90046-d.


Simultaneous measurements of pulmonary blood flow (qPA), coeliacomesenteric blood flow (qCoA), dorsal aortic blood pressure (PDA), heart rate (fH) and branchial ventilation frequency (fv) were made in the Australian lungfish, Neoceratodus forsteri, during air breathing and aquatic hypoxia. The cholinergic and adrenergic influences on the cardiovascular system were investigated during normoxia using pharmacological agents, and the presence of catecholamines and serotonin in different tissues was investigated using histochemistry. Air breathing rarely occurred during normoxia but when it did, it was always associated with increased pulmonary blood flow. The pulmonary vasculature is influenced by both a cholinergic and adrenergic tonus whereas the coeliacomesenteric vasculature is influenced by a beta-adrenergic vasodilator mechanism. No adrenergic nerve fibers could be demonstrated in Neoceratodus but catecholamine-containing endothelial cells were found in the atrium of the heart. In addition, serotonin-immunoreactive cells were demonstrated in the pulmonary epithelium. The most prominent response to aquatic hypoxia was an increase in gill breathing frequency followed by an increased number of air breaths together with increased pulmonary blood flow. It is clear from the present investigation that Neoceratodus is able to match cardiovascular performance to meet the changes in respiration during hypoxia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiovascular System / physiopathology*
  • Catecholamines / metabolism
  • Epithelium / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Fishes / physiology*
  • Heart Atria
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Hypoxia / metabolism
  • Hypoxia / physiopathology*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • Reference Values
  • Respiration*
  • Serotonin / metabolism


  • Catecholamines
  • Serotonin