Control of arterial pressure in aquatic sea snakes

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Title: Control of arterial pressure in aquatic sea snakes
Author: Lillywhite, H.; Pough, F. Harvey
Abstract: Cardiovascular responses to head-up tilt, acutely graded hemorrhage, and pharmacologic stimulation by principal autonomic drugs were studied in four species of marine snakes, principally Aipysurus laevis (family Hydrophiidae). Arterial pressure varied inversely with tilt angle and blood volume deficit in conscious snakes outside of water, indicating that physiological regulation was poor or lacking. Calculated arterial pressures at head level typically diminished to zero in A. laevis tilted to angles greater than or equal to 30 degrees. Arterial pressure (corrected for external water pressure) did not change when these snakes were tilted in seawater. Changes of arterial pressure induced by tilt, blood loss, or autonomic drugs elicited reflex adjustments in heart activity, but the magnitude of these responses was less than that observed in terrestrial species of snake. It is concluded that baroreflexes are present but comparatively ineffective in sea snakes. Snakes tolerated large losses of blood volume, and extravascular fluids were absorbed into the circulation during hemorrhage; both hemorrhage and estimated hemodilution volumes exceeded 100% of the initial blood volume in Acalyptophis peronii. Thus, in marine snakes major fluid shifts between nonvascular and vascular compartments significantly compensate hypovolemia but, because of minor autonomic adjustments, do not result in a well-regulated arterial pressure.
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Date: 1983-01-01

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