Cardiac myoglobin plays a role in oxygen consumption and has a protective effect during periods of hypoxia, but little is known about the role of myoglobin during periods of ischaemia. Myoglobin-rich sea raven hearts and myoglobin-poor ocean pout hearts were isolated and perfused at varying flow rates and under conditions of low and high oxygen demand to assess the role of myoglobin in oxygen extraction. In the myoglobin-rich hearts, oxygen extraction remained constant over the flow range. In the myoglobin-poor hearts, oxygen extraction was significantly elevated, relative to controls, at the lower flow rates but decreased as the flow rate increased. In hearts where myoglobin was inactivated by an oxidizing agent, oxygen extraction was similar to that observed in myoglobin-poor hearts. Under conditions of high oxygen demand, myoglobin-rich hearts again showed a constant oxygen extraction over the flow range. Myoglobin-inactivated hearts had a significantly elevated oxygen extraction at low flows, and this decreased as flow rate increased. These data suggest that myoglobin renders oxygen extraction by fish hearts independent of the rate of perfusion.

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