Thermal acclimation causes the heart of multiple fish species to undergo significant remodeling. This includes changes in electrical activity, energy utilization and structural properties at the gross and molecular level of organization. The purpose of this Review is to summarize the current state of knowledge of temperature-induced structural remodeling in the fish ventricle across multiple levels of biological organization, and to examine how such changes result in the modification of the functional properties of the heart. The structural remodeling response is thought to be responsible for changes in cardiac stiffness, the Ca2+ sensitivity of force generation and the rate of force generation by the heart. Such changes to both active and passive properties help to compensate for the loss of cardiac function caused by a decrease in physiological temperature. Hence, temperature-induced cardiac remodeling is common in fish that remain active following seasonal decreases in temperature. This Review is organized around the ventricular phases of the cardiac cycle – specifically diastolic filling, isovolumic pressure generation and ejection – so that the consequences of remodeling can be fully described. We will also compare the thermal acclimation-associated modifications of the fish ventricle with those seen in the mammalian ventricle in response to cardiac pathologies and exercise. Finally, we will consider how the plasticity of the fish heart may be relevant to survival in a climate change context, where seasonal temperature changes could become more extreme and variable.
- Received June 13, 2016.
- Accepted October 27, 2016.
- © 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd
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