Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 187, Issue 2, pp 315–327 | Cite as

Determinants of coronary blood flow in sandbar sharks, Carcharhinus plumbeus

  • Georgina K. Cox
  • Richard W. Brill
  • Kaitlin A. Bonaro
  • Anthony P. Farrell
Original Paper


The coronary circulation first appeared in the chordate lineage in cartilaginous fishes where, as in birds and mammals but unlike most teleost fishes, it supplies arterial blood to the entire myocardium. Despite the pivotal position of elasmobranch fishes in the evolution of the coronary circulation, the determinants of coronary blood flow have never been investigated in this group. Elasmobranch fishes are of special interest because of the morphological arrangement of their cardiomyocytes. Unlike teleosts, the majority of the ventricular myocardium in elasmobranch fishes is distant to the venous blood returning to the heart (i.e., the luminal blood). Also, the majority of the myocardium is in close association with the coronary circulation. To determine the relative contribution of the coronary and luminal blood supplies to cardiovascular function in sandbar sharks, Carcharhinus plumbeus, we measured coronary blood flow while manipulating cardiovascular status using acetylcholine and adrenaline. By exploring inter- and intra-individual variation in cardiovascular variables, we show that coronary blood flow is directly related to heart rate (R 2 = 0.6; P < 0.001), as it is in mammalian hearts. Since coronary blood flow is inversely related to coronary resistance both in vivo and in vitro, we suggest that in elasmobranch fishes, changes in heart rate mediate changes in coronary vascular resistance, which adjust coronary blood flow appropriately.


Cardiac power output Heart rate Coronary blood flow Coronary resistance Sharks 



We gratefully acknowledge the entire staff of the Virginia Institute of Marine Science Eastern Shore Laboratory for their continuing and genuine hospitality, and for providing access to capture vessels, fish holding and laboratory facilities. This is contribution 3584 from the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William & Mary. The opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the US Department of Commerce—National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) or any of its sub-agencies. We would also like to thank William Milsom, and Erika Eliason for providing critical comments and helpful suggestions on earlier versions of this manuscript.


This study was supported by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Discovery Grant (RGPIN 2015 05059) to APF. APF holds a Canada Research Chair.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Georgina K. Cox
    • 1
  • Richard W. Brill
    • 2
  • Kaitlin A. Bonaro
    • 3
  • Anthony P. Farrell
    • 1
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science CenterJames J. Howard Marine Sciences LaboratoryHighlandsUSA
  3. 3.Washington and Lee UniversityLexingtonUSA
  4. 4.Faculty of Land and Food SystemsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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