Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 180, Issue 5, pp 645–651 | Cite as

Bioelectrical activity in the heart of the lugworm Arenicola marina

  • Denis V. Abramochkin
  • Natalia V. Tennova
  • Elizaveta E. Hirazova
  • Anna V. Pizgareva
  • Vladislav S. Kuzmin
  • Galina S. Sukhova
Original Paper


Standard microelectrode technique was used to study electrical activity of the isolated heart of the polychaete annelid, Arenicola marina. Typical pacemaker activity with slow diastolic depolarization was observed in all recordings. The average maximum diastolic potential (−58.4 ± 3.2 mV), the average amplitude of the action potential (28.7 ± 4.7 mV) and the average total duration of the action potential (2,434 ± 430 ms) were determined. There has been no gradient of automaticity observed in our studies, which suggests that all regions of the Arenicola heart could possess pacemaker functions. Acetylcholine (ACh) produced a concentration dependent (5 × 10−8–5 × 10−5 M) increase of the beating rate via increase in the rate of the diastolic depolarization. ACh (5 × 10−5 M) increased beating rate by 2.5-fold compared to the control rate. A stronger action of ACh resulted in depolarization, block of action potential generation and contracture of the heart. The non-hydrolysable ACh analog carbacholine (10−8–10−6 M) produced similar effects. All effects of ACh and carbacholine were abolished by 5 × 10−6 M atropine. d-Tubocurarine (5 × 10−5 M) did not significantly alter effects of ACh or carbacholine. Epinephrine (10−8–10−6 M) caused the slowing of pacemaker activity and marked decrease of action potential duration. 10−6 M epinephrine produced complete cardiac arrest. The effects of epinephrine were not significantly altered by the β-blocker propranolol (5 × 10−6 M). The β-agonist isoproterenol (10−7–10−5 M) and the α-agonist xylometazoline (10−6–10−5 M) did not produce significant effects. Thus, cholinergic effects in the Arenicola heart are likely to be mediated via muscarinic receptors, while the nature of adrenergic effects needs further investigation.


Annelida Lugworm Arenicola Heart Action potential Acetylcholine 





Action potential


Action potential duration to 50% of repolarization



Authors are very grateful to Prof. Alexander B. Tsetlin for the invaluable support of this study. Authors thank Dr. Aleksey E. Lyashkov for important suggestions and analysis of the manuscript.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Denis V. Abramochkin
    • 1
    • 2
  • Natalia V. Tennova
    • 1
  • Elizaveta E. Hirazova
    • 1
  • Anna V. Pizgareva
    • 1
  • Vladislav S. Kuzmin
    • 1
  • Galina S. Sukhova
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Human and Animal PhysiologyMoscow State UniversityMoscowRussia
  2. 2.MoscowRussia

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