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Most animals elevate cardiac output during exercise through a rise in heart rate (fH), whereas stroke volume (VS) remains relatively unchanged. Cardiac pacing reveals that elevating fH alone does not alter cardiac output, which is instead largely regulated by the peripheral vasculature. In terms of myocardial oxygen demand, an increase in fH is more costly than that which would incur if VS instead were to increase. We hypothesized that fH must increase because any substantial rise in VS would be constrained by the pericardium. To investigate this hypothesis, we explored the effects of pharmacologically induced bradycardia, with ivabradine treatment, on VS at rest and during exercise in the common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) with intact or opened pericardium. We first showed that, in isolated myocardial preparations, ivabradine exerted a pronounced positive inotropic effect on atrial tissue but only minor effects on ventricle. Ivabradine reduced fH in vivo, such that exercise tachycardia was attenuated. Pulmonary and systemic VS rose in response to ivabradine. The rise in pulmonary VS largely compensated for the bradycardia at rest, leaving total pulmonary flow unchanged by ivabradine, although ivabradine reduced pulmonary blood flow during swimming (exercise × ivabradine interaction, P < 0.05). Although systemic VS increased, systemic blood flow was reduced by ivabradine both at rest and during exercise, despite ivabradine's potential to increase cardiac contractility. Opening the pericardium had no effect on fH, VS, or blood flows before or after ivabradine, indicating that the pericardium does not constrain VS in turtles, even during pharmacologically induced bradycardia.


Brandt Smith, Dane A Crossley, Tobias Wang, William Joyce. No evidence for pericardial restraint in the snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) following pharmacologically induced bradycardia at rest or during exercise. American journal of physiology. Regulatory, integrative and comparative physiology. 2022 May 01;322(5):R389-R399

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PMID: 35200048

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