Peptidergic modulation of cardiovascular dynamics in the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister

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Decapod crustacean pericardial organs contain extensive neurohormonal reserves which can be released directly into the haemolymph to act as physiological modulators. The present paper concerns the in vivo effects of two pericardial peptides, proctolin and crustacean cardioactive peptide, on cardiovascular dynamics in the crab Cancer magister. Infusion of proctolin into the pericardial sinus caused a slight decrease in heart rate concurrent with a large increase in cardiac stroke volume. It decreased haemolymph flow anteriorly through the paired anterolateral arteries and increased flow posteriorly and ventrally through the posterior aorta and sternal artery, respectively. The threshold for responses occurred at circulating concentrations of 10-9 mol·l-1, and haemolymph flows remained elevated for up to 30 min after peptide infusion. The effects of crustacean cardioactive peptide were less dramatic. Heart rate was not affected but a significant increase in stroke volume was observed. Crustacean cardioactive peptide increased haemolymph flow through the anterolateral arteries and increased scaphognathite rate. The threshold for crustacean cardioactive peptide activity was higher than for proctolin (10-7 mol·l-1 and 10-6 mol·l-1) but the responses to crustacean cardioactive peptide were of longer duration. The effects of proctolin on regional haemeolymph distribution in Cancer magister closely resemble the cardiovascular responses of this species when exposed to hypoxic conditions. These peptides may be implicated as cardiovascular regulators during environmental perturbations.

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crustacean cardioactive peptide


central nervous system


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Correspondence to I. J. McGaw.

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McGaw, I.J., Airriess, C.N. & McMahon, B.R. Peptidergic modulation of cardiovascular dynamics in the Dungeness crab, Cancer magister . J Comp Physiol B 164, 103–111 (1994).

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Key words

  • Proctolin
  • Crustacean cardioactive peptide
  • Cardiovascular
  • Circulation
  • Crab, Cancer magister