Respiratory properties of blood in awake and estivating lungfish, Protopterus amphibius.
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Blood respiratory properties have been studied in awake and estivating African lungfish, Protopterus amphibius. Fish had been estivating 28-30 months when blood was sampled. Hematocrit, O2 capacity and blood hemoglobin concentration increased by about 50% during estivation. Red cell Hb concentration (MCHC) was unaltered. Total blood concentration of nucleoside triphosphates (NTP) was reduced 50% in estivation. Thin-layer chromatography showed that the change in NTP resulted from a GTP/Hb (guanosine triphosphate) reduction to 20% of the value in awake fish. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) concentration remained largely unaltered. GTP/Hb changes were accompanied by marked changes in O2 affinity. The P50 value in blood from awake fish was 33 mm Hg at pH 7.5 compared to 9 mm Hg for the estivating fish. The n-value changed insignificantly. An increased Bohr effect was present in estivating fish, but its importance will depend on circulating pH in the two states. Standard bicarbonate ranged from a low of 8.6 mMol-L-1 (P plasma) at pH 7.5 in an awake fish to 49.6 mMol-L-1 (P) in an estivating fish. CO2 dissociation curves showed a variable Haldane effect having its highest value in the in vivo range of PCO2. The striking increase in O2-Hb affinity during estivation is regarded as an adaptation to a reduced alveolar O2 availability associated with estivation. Altered mechanics of pulmonary ventilation and reduced ambient O2 availability caused by the subterranean habitat may have been selection pressures for the development of the high O2 availability caused by the subterranean habitat may have been selection pressures for the development of the high O2 affinity. The mechanism behind it rests with the recorded change in erythrocytic concentration of GTP.