The control of blood pressure during external hypercapnia in the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)

S. F. Perry, R. Fritsche, T. M. Hoagland, D. W. Duff, K. R. Olson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

61 Scopus citations


Adult freshwater rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) were exposed acutely (approximately 20 min) in a stepwise manner to increasing levels of environmental carbon dioxide ranging between 1.7 and 9.0 mmHg (0.23-1.2 kPa). Experiments were performed to examine, for the first time, the influence of hypercapnic acidosis on aspects of cardiovascular physiology including blood pressure, cardiac output and vascular resistance. Fish displayed dose (water CO2 partial pressure) -dependent increases in ventral aortic (13-39%) and dorsal aortic (17-54%) blood pressures that reflected marked increases in systemic vascular resistance (16-78%); branchial vascular resistance was unaffected by hypercapnia. At the highest level of hypercapnia (9.0 mmHg), central venous pressure was significantly elevated by 54%. Although cardiac output remained constant, heart rate was significantly lowered by 4-7 beats min-1 at the two highest levels of hypercapnia. To determine whether the cardiovascular responses to hypercapnia were being blunted by the stepwise increase in external P(CO2), a separate group of fish was exposed directly to a single step of hypercapnia (water P(CO2) 8.0 mmHg). The cardiovascular responses were similar to those exhibited by the more gradually exposed fish except that central venous pressure did not increase and the extent of the bradycardia was greater (13 beats min-1). After confirming the effectiveness of yohimbine in blocking the vasoconstrictory α-adrenoreceptors of the systemic vasculature, this antagonist was used as a tool to assess the importance of α-adrenoreceptor stimulation in promoting the cardiovascular responses during hypercapnia. Prior treatment of fish with yohimbine prevented the increased blood pressures and systemic vascular resistance during hypercapnia but did not influence the CO2-induced bradycardia. Plasma levels of catecholamines did not change during hypercapnia, and therefore the stimulation of the systemic α-adrenoreceptors presumably reflected increased sympathetic nerve activity. To determine whether the cardiovascular changes elicited by hypercapnia were related to acidosis-induced hypoxaemia, fish were exposed to hypoxia in a stepwise manner (water PO2 65-151 mmHg). The cardiovascular responses to hypoxia were markedly different from those to hypercapnia and consisted of pronounced increases in systemic and branchial vascular resistance, but only at the most severe level of hypoxia; ventral and dorsal aortic pressures were unaffected. The differences between the responses to hypercapnia and hypoxia, coupled with the smaller reductions in blood oxygen content during hypercapnia, support the hypothesis that the cardiovascular responses to CO2 are direct and are unrelated to hypoxaemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2177-2190
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Experimental Biology
Issue number16
StatePublished - Aug 1 1999


  • Blood pressure
  • Cardiac output
  • Catecholamine
  • Gill resistance
  • Heart
  • Hypercapnia
  • Hypoxia
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss
  • Systemic resistance
  • Ventilation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'The control of blood pressure during external hypercapnia in the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this