Morphological arrangement of the coronary vasculature in a shark (Squalus sucklei) and a teleost (Oncorhynchus mykiss)


The coronary circulation is of great importance in maintaining cardiovascular function and consequently it has been extensively studied in many mammalian species. However, much less attention has been paid to the coronary circulation in other vertebrates. For example, while elasmobranch fishes are of special interest as they are the most ancient lineage of vertebrates to possess a coronary circulation, only qualitative studies exist on their coronary circulation and most concern the architecture of the large arteries. Our study tested the prediction that the coronary circulation of sharks is better developed than previously thought. However, to test this idea, a methodology was needed to quantify vascularity, vessel morphology and oxygen diffusion distances in a heart with predominantly spongy myocardium. Here, we describe this methodology using dogfish and rainbow trout and suggest that the dogfish spongy myocardium appears to rely predominantly on the coronary circulation for its oxygen supply, an arrangement that contrasts with the spongy myocardial tissue of rainbow trout. In support of this suggestion, the density of the microvasculature of the spongy myocardial tissue of dogfish exceeded that of their compact tissue. Although vascularity in the compact myocardium of dogfish was significantly lower than trout, intervascular distances were similar on account of a significantly larger vessel diameter in dogfish, which corresponds to a larger red blood cell size of the dogfish when compared to trout.

Journal of Morphology, 277: 896–905