Maintained Cardiac Pumping in Anoxic Crucian Carp

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Science  01 Oct 2004:
Vol. 306, Issue 5693, pp. 77
DOI: 10.1126/science.1100763

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Like most vertebrates, humans die within minutes when deprived of molecular oxygen (anoxia), in part because of cardiac failure. In contrast, some freshwater turtles can survive anoxia for months at low temperatures, but to do so, they drastically suppress cardiac activity and autonomic cardiovascular control. Although Carassius carassius, the crucian carp, shares this anoxia tolerance, we show that it has a unique ability among vertebrates to retain normal cardiac performance and autonomic cardiovascular regulation for at least 5 days of anoxia. These responses point to an unusual tolerance of a vertebrate heart and autonomic nervous system to prolonged anoxia.

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