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Embryonic control of heart rate: Examining developmental patterns and temperature and oxygenation influences using embryonic avian models


Andrewartha, SJ and Tazawa, H and Burggren, WW, Embryonic control of heart rate: Examining developmental patterns and temperature and oxygenation influences using embryonic avian models, Respiratory Physiology and Neurobiology, 178, (1) pp. 84-96. ISSN 1569-9048 (2011) [Substantial Review]

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DOI: doi:10.1016/j.resp.2011.04.014


Long-term measurements (days and weeks) of heart rate (HR) have elucidated infradian rhythms in chicken embryos and circadian rhythms in chicken hatchlings. However, such rhythms are lacking in emu embryos and only rarely observed in emu hatchlings. Parasympathetic control of HR (instantaneous heart rate (IHR) decelerations) occurs at ∼60% of incubation in both precocial and altricial avian embryos, with sympathetic control (IHR accelerations) becoming more prevalent close to hatching. A large increase in avian embryonic HR occurs during hatching (presumably an energetically expensive process, i.e. increased oxygen consumption (O2)), beginning during pipping when a physical barrier to O2 conductance is removed. Alterations in ambient O2 have little effect on early embryonic HR, likely due to the low rate of O2 of early embryos and the fact that adequate O2 delivery can occur via diffusion. As O2 increases in advanced embryos and circulatory convection becomes important for O2 delivery, alterations in ambient O2 have more profound effects on embryonic HR. Early embryos demonstrate a wide ambient temperature (Ta) tolerance range compared with older embryos. In response to a rapid decrease in Ta, embryonic HR decreases (stroke volume and blood flow are preserved) in an exponential fashion to a steady state (from which it can potentially recover if re-warmed). A more severe decrease in Ta results in complete cessation of HR; however, depending on developmental age, embryos are able to survive severe cold exposure and cessation of HR for up to 24 h in some instances. The development of endothermy can be tracked by measuring baseline HR during Ta changes. HR patterns change from thermo-conformity to thermoregulation (reverse to Ta changes). Further, IHR low frequency oscillations mediated by the autonomic nervous system are augmented at low Tas in hatchlings. Transitions of baseline HR during endothermic development are unique to individual avian species (e.g. chickens, ducks and emu), reflecting differences in life history.

Item Details

Item Type:Substantial Review
Keywords:embryo and hatchlings, heart rate: mean and instantaneous, variability and irregularities, environmental challenge: hypoxia, hyperoxia and temperature, thermoregulation, endothermic response
Research Division:Biological Sciences
Research Group:Zoology
Research Field:Animal developmental and reproductive biology
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in the biological sciences
UTAS Author:Andrewartha, SJ (Dr Sarah Andrewartha)
ID Code:131601
Year Published:2011
Web of Science® Times Cited:24
Deposited By:Agriculture and Food Systems
Deposited On:2019-03-26
Last Modified:2019-03-28

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