Recordings of pressure and frequency were made from the hearts of free-moving Octopus vulgaris. The effects of extracts from neurosecretory endings in the anterior vena cava (AVC) and the pharyngo-ophthalmic vein (POV), injected through fine cannulae into a branchial heart, efferent branchial vessel or the dorsal aorta, were studied and compared with the effects of acetylcholine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, adrenaline, histamine and tyramine. AVC and POV extracts each produce a different spectrum of effects, unlike those of any of the drugs tested. AVC extract is effective at doses of less than 2% of the material extractable from a single vein per kg, increasing the force and amplitude of the heartbeats. With a natural release point just upstream of the branchial hearts the AVC material must be relevant to the normal performance of the hearts. POV extract is effective only at doses equivalent to several veins per kg, and is unlikely to have a role in cardiac regulation. Section of the visceral nerves did not affect the action of drugs or extracts, indicating that effects were not indirectly mediated via the CNA. Further experiments were made with hearts and the aorta in vitro with effects that did not always parallel those found in vivo. Reasons for these differences are discussed.

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