DAO 52:11-20 (2002)  -  doi:10.3354/dao052011

Cardiac performance in Salmo salar with infectious salmon anaemia (ISA): putative role of nitric oxide

Alfonsina Gattuso1, Rosa Mazza1, Sandra Imbrogno1, Anne Sverdrup2, Bruno Tota1,3,*, Are Nylund2

1Department of Cell Biology, University of Calabria, 87030 Arcavacata di Rende (CS), Italy
2Department of Fisheries and Marine Biology, University of Bergen, 5020 Bergen, Norway
3Zoological Station ŒA. Dohrn of Naples¹, Villa Communale, 80121 Naples, Italy
*Corresponding author. E-mail:

ABSTRACT: Infectious salmon anaemia (ISA) is a viral disease which targets the vascular and endocardial endothelial cells. An in vitro preparation of the spontaneously beating working heart of Salmo salar L. (i.e. able to generate physiological values of output pressure, cardiac output, ventricle work and power) was used to study cardiac performance under basal (i.e. in the absence of stimuli) and loading (i.e. Frank-Starling response) conditions in both control and ISAV-affected fish. In contrast to control fish, the heart preparations of the infected counterparts showed an impairment of the Frank-Starling response, particularly evident in fish infected with a higher virus dose. The Frank-Starling response was progressively impaired with the progression of the viral disease from the time of the virus administration until the 20th day. The potential involvement of nitric oxide (NO) in cardiac dysfunction was investigated by using the authentic nitric oxide synthase (NOS) substrate l-arginine and the NOS inhibitors l-NMMA and l-NIL. In contrast to control fish, infected hearts were particularly sensitive to the inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) inhibitor l-NIL and insensitive to l-arginine. While pretreatment with NOS inhibitors reduced the Frank-Starling response in control hearts, it restored this response in infected counterparts. Taken together, the results indicate that cardiac dysfunction and the NO-transduction-pathway can be mechanistically linked in infected salmon.

KEY WORDS: ISA virus · Salmon · Heart · Nitric oxide · Myocardial dysfunction

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