Compliance of the fish outflow tract is altered by thermal acclimation through connective tissue remodelling

Holly Shiels, Adam Keen, John James Mackrill, Peter Gardner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To protect the gill capillaries from high systolic pulse pressure, the fish heart contains a compliant non-contractile chamber called the bulbus arteriosus which is part of the outflow tract (OFT) which extends from the ventricle to the ventral aorta. Thermal acclimation alters the form and function of the fish atria and ventricle to ensure appropriate cardiac output at different temperatures, but its impact on the OFT is unknown. Here we used ex vivo pressure-volume curves to demonstrate remodelling of passive stiffness in the rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) bulbus arteriosus following >8 weeks of thermal acclimation to 5, 10 and 18°C. We then combined novel, non-biased Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy with classic histological staining to show that changes in compliance were achieved by changes in tissue collagen-to-elastin ratio. In situ gelatin zymography and SDS-PAGE zymography revealed that collagen remodelling was underpinned, at least in part, by changes in activity and abundance of collagen degrading matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). Collectively, we provide the first indication of bulbus arteriosus thermal remodelling in a fish and suggest this remodelling ensures optimal blood flow and blood pressure in the OFT during temperature change.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Royal Society. Interface
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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