A comparative study of contractility of the heart ventricle in some ectothermic vertebrates

Sergey Kharin, Dmitry Shmakov


The purpose of this study was to analyze contractility of the heart ventricle in selected reptilian and amphibian species having the same ventricular excitation pattern. Systolic time intervals and indices of contractility of the heart ventricle were measured in anaesthetized frogs, snakes, and tortoises by use of polycardiography. The electromechanical delay was significantly shorter in tortoises compared with the other two species. The isovolumetric contraction time in frogs was approximately twofold longer than in reptiles. The pre-ejection period was the longest in frogs and the shortest in tortoises, whereas snakes were intermediate. The ejection time was slightly longer in tortoises compared with the other two species. The greatest isovolumetric contraction index and the smallest myocardial tension index corresponded to the frog and tortoise heart ventricle, respectively. The intrasystolic index in tortoises was significantly greater than in frogs, whereas quite similar to that in snakes. The frog ventricle had lower contractility compared with the reptilian one. Although ventricular contractility tended to be lower in snakes compared with tortoises, this difference was not statistically significant. Possible causes for these differences are discussed. We suppose a large variety in ventricular contractility among amphibian and reptilian species having the same ventricular activation pattern. This variety may be conditioned by heart anatomy, intracardiac shunting, lifestyles, and habitats. It can only be hypothesized that on the average, ventricular contractility is higher in reptiles compared with amphibians and in chelonians compared with snakes.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13128/Acta_Herpetol-2955

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