The influence of the vagus nerve on swimbladder blood flow in the European eel (Anguilla anguilla) was characterized by recording the changes in blood flow rate and blood pressure following stimulation of the vagus nerve. After electrical stimulation, blood flow in the swimbladder artery increased from 0.9 ml min-1 to 2.1 ml min-1. Video recordings of small vessels on the caudal side of the rete mirabile revealed an increase in erythrocyte velocity combined with a small vasodilation. This effect could not be blocked by injection of the -adrenergic antagonist phentolamine, the ss-adrenergic antagonist propranolol or the muscarinic cholinoceptor antagonist atropine. In all preparations with a high initial flow rate (>1.9 ml min-1), vagotomy resulted in a marked decrease in blood flow (by approximately 80 %). This effect was not observed in preparations with a low initial swimbladder blood flow. Stimulation of the vagus nerve produced a decrease, and vagotomy produced an increase, in perfusion pressure in blood-perfused swimbladder preparations. Histological studies revealed the presence of a ganglion in the vagus nerve located on the anterior part of the resorbing section of the swimbladder close to the origin of the ductus pneumaticus, which is probably associated with swimbladder function. These results suggest that swimbladder blood flow, at least to some extent, is under vagal tonic control. The effects do not, however, appear to involve the classical - and ss-adrenergic or muscarinic cholinoceptor functions.

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