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    Air breathing has evolved repeatedly in fishes and may protect the heart during stress. We investigated myocardial performance in the air-breathing catfish Pangasianodon hypophthalmus, a species that can withstand prolonged exposure to severe hypoxia and acidosis. Isometric ventricular preparations were exposed to anoxia, lactic acidosis, hypercapnic acidosis, and combinations of these treatments. Ventricular preparations were remarkably tolerant to anoxia, exhibiting an inotropic reduction of only 40%, which fully recovered during reoxygenation. Myocardial anoxia tolerance was unaffected by physiologically relevant elevations of bicarbonate concentration, in contrast to previous results in other fishes. Both lactic acidosis (5 mM; pH 7.10) and hypercapnic acidosis (10% CO2; pH 6.70) elicited a biphasic response, with an initial and transient decrease in force followed by overcompensation above control values. Spongy myocardial preparations were significantly more tolerant to hypercapnic acidosis than compact myocardial preparations. While ventricular preparations were tolerant to the isolated effects of anoxia and acidosis, their combination severely impaired myocardial performance and contraction kinetics. This suggests that air breathing may be a particularly important myocardial oxygen source during combined anoxia and acidosis, which may occur during exercise or environmental stress.


    William Joyce, Hans Gesser, Mark Bayley, Tobias Wang. Anoxia and Acidosis Tolerance of the Heart in an Air-Breathing Fish (Pangasianodon hypophthalmus). Physiological and biochemical zoology : PBZ. 2015 Nov-Dec;88(6):648-59

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    PMID: 26658412

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