Dorsal (PDA) and ventral aortic blood pressure (PVA) and heart rate (HR) were measured in conscious resting cod, Gadus morhua L., which has been allowed 24 h recovery from surgery. Plasma adrenalin and nonadrenalin concentrations in these fish were 3.4 and 2.2 nmoll-1 respectively, and thus lower than previously reported values from partially recovered cod. Twenty-four hours after treatment with the adrenergic neurone blocking agent bretylium, PDA was significantly reduced by 17% compared to sham-injected controls, although PVA and heart rate were unaltered. Subsequent alpha-adrenoceptor blockade by phentolamine produced no further fall in PDA and no changes in PVA or HR, provided a 5-h period was allowed to overcome the acute toxic side effects of phentolamine. The effectiveness of the bretylium or phentolamine blockade was confirmed by noting the absence of any vasoconstrictor response during sympathetic nerve stimulation in perfused tails from fish used in the in vivo experiments. Bretylium had no significant effect on the sensitivity of the isolated coeliac artery to adrenalin, but effectively blocked the adrenergic innervation of this artery or the vasculature of the tail. Evidence for a non-selective blockade of non-adrenergic nerves to the heart was also obtained. It is concluded that the adrenergic tonus affecting the dorsal aortic blood pressure in resting cod that have recovered for 24 h following surgery is due solely to an adrenergic nervous tone.

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