Respiratory and Circulatory Responses to Hypoxia in the Sturgeon, Acipenser baerii

  • Guy Nonnotte
  • Patrick Williot
  • Valérie Maxime


Siberian sturgeon, Acipenser baerii, when exposed to progressive hypoxia, was able to maintain standard oxygen consumption until a low critical level of ambient PO2 (PwO2 < 40 mm Hg). During the post-hypoxic period, an O2 debt was repaid by an elevated oxygen consumption indicating that a shift to anaerobic metabolism had occurred during the exposure to severe hypoxia. Gradually increasing ambient hypoxia initially induced a respiratory alkalosis. Below the critical level of PwO2 and during normoxic recovery, a flush of lactate into the blood was associated with a metabolic acidosis which was totally compensated 3.5 h after return to normoxia. Respiratory responses of the sturgeon to progressive hypoxia reveal a typical O2 regulatory behavior.

An acute severe hypoxia (PwO2 = 10 mmHg) followed by a rapid return to normoxia caused a significant stress to the fish, as revealed by high levels of plasma catecholamines and cortisol. The moderate rise in heart rate and in dorsal aortic blood pressure observed during the first phase of hypoxia represented typical results of increased plasma catecholamines. These effects were then masked by a vagal reflex resulting in bradycardia. Deep hypoxia induced a hyperventilatory response followed by a marked ventilatory depression at the lowest level of PwO2. The initial ventilatory alkalosis was combined with a moderate metabolic acidosis. The latter was amplified during the first 2 h of the recovery period in normoxia, concomitantly with a flush of lactate into the blood and an increase in plasma sodium concentration. During normoxic recovery, hyperventilation resumed, consistent with the repayment of an oxygen debt.


Siberian sturgeon Hypoxia Acid-base status O2 regulator Ventilation Circulation Heart rate Catecholamines Cortisol Fish 



Standard oxygen consumption


Oxygen partial pressure in arterial blood


Carbon dioxide partial pressure


Oxygen partial pressure


Oxygen partial pressure in water


O2 solubility in water



We thank Dr. Karine Pichavant-Rafini (ORPHY laboratory, EA4324) and Michel Rafini (Professor at the Language Dpt) of the Brest University, for their kindness and constant availability and their help and scientific advices. Moreover, we are extremely indebted and grateful to them for the English corrections.

Notes of the Authors

These experiments were performed since 1990 to 1994. They have been investigated in the Laboratoire de Neurobiologie et Physiologie comparées, CNRS URA 1126 and the University of Bordeaux I, F-33120 Arcachon, in collaboration with the Laboratoire de Physiologie Animale, Brest University, F-29285 Brest and the IRSTEA (formerly CEMAGREF), F-33611 Cestas-Gazinet.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guy Nonnotte
    • 1
  • Patrick Williot
    • 2
  • Valérie Maxime
    • 3
  1. 1.La Teste de BuchFrance
  2. 2.AudengeFrance
  3. 3.Département Sciences de la Matière et de la VieUniversity of South BritainLorient-cedexFrance

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