Blood vessel adaptation to gravity in a semi-arboreal snake

J Comp Physiol B. 1996;165(7):518-26. doi: 10.1007/BF00387512.


The effects of vasoactive agonists on systemic blood vessels were examined with respect to anatomical location and gravity acclimation in the semi-arboreal snake, Elaphe Obsoleta. Major blood vessels were reactive to putative neurotransmitters, hormones or local factors in vessel specific patterns. Catecholamines, adenosine triphosphate, histamine and high potassium (80 mM) stimulated significantly greater tension per unit vessel mass in posterior than anterior arteries. Anterior vessels were significantly more sensitive to catecholamines than midbody and posterior vessels. Angiotensin II stimulated significantly greater tension in carotid artery than in midbody and posterior dorsal aorta. Arginine vasotocin strongly contracted the left and right aortic arches and anterior dorsal aorta. Veins were strongly contracted by catecholamines, high potassium and angiotensin II, but less so by adenosine triphosphate, arginine vasotocin and histamine. Precontracted vessel were relaxed by acetylcholine and sodium nitroprusside, but not by atrial natriuretic peptide or bradykinin. Chronic exposure of snakes to intermittent hypergravity stress ( + 1.5 Gz at tail) did not affect the majority of vessel responses. These data demonstrate that in vitro tension correlates with that catecholamines, as well as other agonists, are important in mediating vascular responses to gravitational stresses in snakes.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Adenosine Triphosphate / pharmacology
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Angiotensin II / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Arteries / drug effects
  • Arteries / physiology*
  • Catecholamines / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Gravitation*
  • Histamine / pharmacology
  • Hormones / pharmacology
  • Male
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / pharmacology
  • Potassium / pharmacology
  • Snakes / physiology*
  • Vasotocin / pharmacology
  • Veins / drug effects
  • Veins / physiology*


  • Catecholamines
  • Hormones
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Angiotensin II
  • Histamine
  • Adenosine Triphosphate
  • Potassium
  • Vasotocin