The key to surviving hypoxia is to protect the brain from energy depletion. The epaulette shark (Hemiscyllium ocellatum) is an elasmobranch able to resist energy depletion and to survive hypoxia. Using epi-illumination microscopy in vivo to observe cerebral blood flow velocity on the brain surface, we show that cerebral blood flow in the epaulette shark is unaffected by 2 h of severe hypoxia (0.35 mg O2 l-1 in the respiratory water, 24 C). Thus, the epaulette shark differs from other hypoxia- and anoxia-tolerant species studied: there is no adenosine-mediated increase in cerebral blood flow such as that occurring in freshwater turtles and cyprinid fish. However, blood pressure showed a 50 % decrease in the epaulette shark during hypoxia, indicating that a compensatory cerebral vasodilatation occurs to maintain cerebral blood flow. We observed an increase in cerebral blood flow velocity when superfusing the normoxic brain with adenosine (making sharks the oldest vertebrate group in which this mechanism has been found). The adenosine-induced increase in cerebral blood flow velocity was reduced by the adenosine receptor antagonist aminophylline. Aminophylline had no effect upon the maintenance of cerebral blood flow during hypoxia, however, indicating that adenosine is not involved in maintaining cerebral blood flow in the epaulette shark during hypoxic hypotension.
- © 1999 by Company of Biologists