The effect of increasing oxygen supply on the perfused systemic heart of Octopus vulgaris (Lam.) by using oxygenated or haemocyanin-containing perfusates was investigated. Providing aerated blood or seawater solutions of haemocyanin that were comparable with blood in oxygen-carrying capacity improved the performance of the isolated heart compared with that of hearts perfused with aerated sea water. Aortic outputs were similar to in vivo values (44ml min−1 g−1) at close to in vivo values of preload and afterload owing to an increase in both heart rate (from 24.0 to 38.4beatsmin−1) and stroke volume (from 0.69 to 1.10ml g−1). Coronary flow fell in these conditions, becoming 2.5% of the aortic output (against 24% with aerated sea water). A parallel increase in coronary resistance was found. Oxygenated sea water also improved the performance of the heart, mainly by improving the stroke volume. Both with haemocyanin solutions or blood and with oxygenated sea water, the isolated heart was able to do more work at lower preloads compared with the hearts perfused with aerated sea water. Power output was linearly related to total oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production. The major site of oxygen consumption was the coronary bed. Haemocyanin released about 70% of the bound oxygen as it passed through the ventricular wall.

Note: Present address: Department of Zoology, University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen AB9 2TN, Scotland, UK.

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