Effects of change in temperature on the cardiac contractility of broad-snouted caiman (Caiman latirostris) during digestion
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In many reptiles, digestion has been associated with the selection of higher body temperatures, the so-called post-prandial thermophilic response. This study aimed to investigate the excitation–contraction (E–C) coupling in postprandial broad-snouted caimans (Caiman latirostris) in response to acute warming within a preferred body temperature range of crocodiles. Isometric preparations subjected to a temperature transition from 25°C to 30°C were used to investigate myocardial contractility of postprandial caimans, that is, 48 h after the animals ingested a rodent meal corresponding to 15% of body mass. The caiman heart exhibits a negative force–frequency relationship that is independent of the temperature. At 25°C, cardiac muscle was able to maintain a constant force up to 36 bpm, above which it decreased significantly, reaching minimum values at the highest frequency of 84 bpm. Moreover, E–C coupling is predominantly dependent on transsarcolemmal Ca2+ transport denoted by the lack of significant ryanodine effects on force generation. On the contrary, ventricular strips at 30°C were able to sustain the cardiac contractility at higher pacing frequencies (from 12 to 144 bpm) due to an important role of Na+/Ca2+ exchanger in Ca2+ cycling, as indicated by the decay of the post-rest contraction, and a significant contribution of the sarcoplasmic reticulum above 72 bpm. Our results demonstrated that the myocardium of postprandial caimans exhibits a significant degree of thermal plasticity of E–C coupling during acute warming. Therefore, myocardial contractility can be maximized when postprandial broad-snouted caimans select higher body temperatures (preferred temperature zone) following feeding.