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- Metabolic, cardiac and ventilatory regulation in early larvae of the South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis.
- Early development of O2 chemoreception and hypoxic responses under normoxic (150 mmHg) and chronically hypoxic (110 mmHg) conditions were investigated in Xenopus laevis from hatching to 3 weeks post fertilization. Development, growth, O2 consumption, ventilatory and cardiac performance, and branchial neuroepithelial cells (NEC) density and size were determined. At 3 days post fertilization (dpf), larvae started gill ventilation at a rate of 28 ± 4 beats/min and showed increased frequency to 60 ± 2 beats/min at a PO2 of 30 mmHg. Also at 3 dpf, NECs were identified in the gill filament buds using immunohistochemical methods. Lung ventilation began at 5 dpf and exhibited a 3-fold increase in frequency from normoxia to a PO2 of 30 mmHg. Hypoxic tachycardia developed at 5 dpf, causing an increase of 20 beats/min in heart rate, which led to a 2-fold increase in mass-specific cardiac output at a PO2 of 70 mmHg. At 10 dpf, gill ventilatory sensitivity to hypoxia increased, which was associated with the increase in NEC density, from 15 ± 1 to 29 ± 2 cells/mm of filament at 5 and 10 dpf, respectively. Unlike the elevated rate, cardiac and ventilatory volumes were independent of acute hypoxia. Despite increased cardioventilatory frequency, larvae experienced an average of 80% depression in during acute hypoxia. Chronic hypoxia (PO2 of 110 mmHg) decreased mass-specific cardiac performance before 10 dpf. In older larvae (10 to 21 dpf), chronic hypoxia decreased acute branchial and pulmonary hypoxic hyperventilation and increased NEC size. Collectively, these data suggest that larvae exhibit strong O2-driven acute hypoxic responses post-hatching, yet are still O2 conformers. All acute hypoxic responses developed before 5 dpf, and then the effects of chronic hypoxia started to show between 7 and 21 dpf. Thus, the early formation of acute hypoxic responses is susceptible to the environment and can be shaped by the ambient PO2.