The effects of adrenaline, noradrenaline, substance P and vasoactive intestinal polypeptide (VIP) on dorsal aortic blood pressure, coeliac artery blood flow and heart rate were studied in unrestrained dogfish, Squalus acanthias. Changes in the coeliac vascular bed were calculated from these variables. Perfused tail preparations were used to study the effects of the various drugs on the somatic vascular bed. Corrosion casts were made to study the gross architecture of the coeliac vascular bed.

Adrenaline and noradrenaline increased dorsal aortic pressure and reduced the coeliac artery blood flow. Adrenaline caused a small increase in heart rate while noradrenaline caused a small decrease. Both drugs increased the resistance in the coeliac vascular bed. VIP increased dorsal aortic pressure, heart rate and resistance in the coeliac vascular bed. Substance P caused an increase in heart rate, cardiac output and, in particular, in coeliac artery blood flow; dorsal aortic pressure was simultaneously reduced. Voluntary swimming or fright immediately caused a pronounced reduction in blood flow in the coeliac artery, even though cardiac output and dorsal aortic pressure increased.

It is concluded that adrenergic mechanisms and possibly VIP are involved in reducing the blood flow to the gut, while substance P increases the flow to the gut.

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