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Fine structure, mechanism of heart function and haemodynamics in the prosobranch gastropod molluscLittorina littorea (L.)


The heart, main blood vessels, and associated structures ofLittorina littorea were examined by scanning and transmission electron microscopy. The auricle is subdivided into two compartments, one receiving blood from the gill and opening to the nephridial gland vein, the other connecting with the latter anteriorly and the ventricle posteriorly.

Video recordings were made of the beating heart in vivo and revealed that the auricle expelled blood not only to the ventricle, but also the nephridial gland vein at systole and provided further evidence of tidal flow of blood in the vein. There is clear indication that the constant volume mechanism of auricular re-filling is not strictly true inLittorina.

Blood pressure in the heart and major vessels was measured using a servo-nulling micropressure system. The rate of formation of urine (derived by filtration of blood through the auricular wall) was measured using [51Cr] EDTA as a blood marker.

Basal blood pressure was slightly above ambient (0.7 cm H2O). Peak systolic pressure in the ventricle (3.8 cm H2O) was synchronised with a subambient trough in pericardial pressure (−1.0 cm H2O); these pressure pulses were out of phase with that of the auricle (2.3 cm H2O) at systole. The observations are consistent in broad terms with a constant volume mechanism, but this does not take into account urine formation or filling of the nephridial gland vein.

A filtration pressure of 1.5 cm H2O has been demonstrated across the auricular wall throughout the cardiac cycle. Colloidal back pressure appears to be negligible. The mean rate of urine formation is 0.26 μl g−1 min−1.

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Andrews, E.B., Taylor, P.M. Fine structure, mechanism of heart function and haemodynamics in the prosobranch gastropod molluscLittorina littorea (L.). J Comp Physiol B 158, 247–262 (1988). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF01075839

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  • Pressure Pulse
  • Cardiac Cycle
  • Systolic Pressure
  • Heart Function
  • Broad Term