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Cardio-respiratory function in carp exposed to environmental nitrite

, : Cardio-respiratory function in carp exposed to environmental nitrite. Journal Of Fish Biology. 50(1): 137-149

Continuous monitoring of heart rate, breathing episodes and blood pressure showed that the cardio-respiratory response of carp exposed to nitrite (water concentration, 1 mmol l-1) changes with length of exposure. The animals developed a severe methaemoglobinaemia over the first 24 h of nitrite exposure. The minor changes in plasma HCO-3- and lactate concentration, suggest that the observed hyper-ventilatory response was sufficient to maintain aerobic metabolism throughout most of the body during this time. During the second 24-h period, the rate of breathing increased further and short periods of bradycardia and hypotension were seen. Over this latter period, the animals increased their use of anaerobic metabolism as illustrated by the mean 48 h blood lactate concentration of 4-8 mmol l-1, a greater than 10-fold increase over pre-exposure values. The increase in blood lactate was accompanied by the predicted metabolic acidosis, however, an alkalosis of respiratory origin and buffering combined to keep the plasma pH absolutely stable throughout the study. This study shows that as the blood oxygen supply is reduced through the development of methaemoglobinaemia, cardio-respiratory compensation by the carp is probably adequate to maintain tissue oxygenation for short periods of nitrite exposure. However, as nitrite exposure proceeds past 24 h, the animals progress into a positive feedback cycle where the high cost of additional ventilation rapidly accelerates their oxygen deficit which cannot be repaid, because lt 25% of their haemoglobin is available for oxygen binding. Additionally, our data demonstrate a circadian rhythm of physiological response to nitrite and contradict the hypothesis that catecholamine release promotes CO? retention in water breathing animals.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1095-8649.1997.tb01346.x

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