Journal of Comparative Physiology B

, Volume 183, Issue 6, pp 773–785 | Cite as

Effects of fatty acid provision during severe hypoxia on routine and maximal performance of the in situ tilapia heart

  • Ben Speers-Roesch
  • Sabine L. Lague
  • Anthony P. Farrell
  • Jeffrey G. Richards
Original Paper


The ability to maintain stable cardiac function during environmental hypoxia exposure is crucial for hypoxia tolerance in animals and depends upon the maintenance of cardiac energy balance as well as the state of the heart’s extracellular environment (e.g., availability of metabolic fuels). Hypoxic depression of plasma [non-esterified fatty acids] (NEFA), an important cardiac aerobic fuel, is a common response in many species of hypoxia-tolerant fishes, including tilapia. We tested the hypothesis that decreased plasma [NEFA] is important for maintaining stable cardiac function during and following hypoxia exposure, based on the premise that continued reliance upon cardiac fatty acid metabolism under such conditions could impair cardiac function. We examined the effect of severe hypoxia exposure (PO2 < 0.2 kPa) on routine and maximum performance of the in situ perfused tilapia heart under conditions of routine (400 μmol L−1) and low (75 μmol L−1) [palmitate], which mimicked the in vivo levels of plasma [NEFA] found in normoxic and hypoxic tilapia, respectively. Under both concentrations of palmitate, the in situ tilapia heart showed exceptional hypoxic performance as a result of a high maximum glycolytic potential, confirming our previous results using a perfusate without fatty acids. We additionally provide evidence suggesting that non-contractile ATP demand is depressed in tilapia heart during hypoxia exposure. Cardiac performance during and following severe hypoxia exposure was unaffected by the level of palmitate. Thus, we conclude that hypoxic depression of plasma [NEFA] in fishes does not play a role in cardiac hypoxia tolerance.


Energy metabolism Non-esterified fatty acids Fuel selection Cardiovascular performance Fish 



The LabView perfused heart data acquisition and analysis program was written and kindly provided by Drs. M. Axelsson and J. Altimiras. Dr. W. R. Driedzic and L.M. Hanson provided experimental advice. Funding was provided by the Discovery Grant Program from Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (Canada) to J.G. Richards and A. P. Farrell. B. Speers-Roesch was the recipient of a War Memorial Scholarship from IODE Canada. A. P. Farrell holds a Canada Research Chair.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ben Speers-Roesch
    • 1
  • Sabine L. Lague
    • 1
  • Anthony P. Farrell
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jeffrey G. Richards
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of ZoologyUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Land and Food SystemsUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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