The effects of exercise on the rates of protein synthesis in the chambers of the trout heart were investigated in vitro and in vivo. An in vitro rainbow trout heart preparation was developed which permitted perfusion of the coronary supply to the compact region of the ventricular muscle. This preparation was used to examine the mechanical responses to preload pressures, the oxygen consumption at different power outputs and the rates of protein synthesis in the various heart components. By increasing preload pressure it was possible to double cardiac output, oxygen consumption and power output without changing heart rate. Mechanical efficiency of the hearts was approximately 20%. Perfusion of the coronary vessels improved cardiac output. Protein synthesis was measured in isolated hearts by the incorporation of [3H]phenylalanine added at high concentration (1.35 mmol l-1) to the perfusion medium. The various chambers of the heart showed marked differences in their rates of protein synthesis. Increasing cardiac output and power output in vitro by twofold over 20 min increased the fractional rate of protein synthesis by approximately 2.5-fold in the atrium and ventricle but did not affect the rates in the bulbus arteriosus. Perfusion of the coronary vessels significantly increased the rates of protein synthesis of the compact layer of the ventricle. In vivo there were no significant differences in the fractional protein synthesis rates between the atrium and ventricle; slow-speed continuous swimming over 40 min (1.5 body lengths s-1) caused an increase in the rates of protein synthesis in all the chambers except the bulbus arteriosus. The stimulation in the fractional rates of protein synthesis by approximately 32% was not as great as in vitro. Both in vivo and in vitro the increased rates of protein synthesis occurred without any change in RNA to protein ratios, indicating an improved activity of protein synthesis per unit of RNA. It is concluded that short-term increases in cardiac contractility, possibly acting through the mechanical stretch on the cardiac muscle, stimulated protein synthesis, particularly in the ventricle, through increased ribosomal activity.

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