Effects of hypothermic hypoxia on anaerobic energy metabolism in isolated anuran livers

Research paper by C. A. Fedorow, T. A. Churchill, N. M. Kneteman

Indexed on: 01 Nov '98Published on: 01 Nov '98Published in: Journal of Comparative Physiology B


Many lower vertebrates (reptilian and amphibian species) are capable of surviving natural episodes of hypoxia and hypothermia. It is by specific metabolic adaptations that anurans are able to tolerate prolonged exposure to harsh environmental stresses. In this study, it was hypothesized that livers from an aquatic frog would possess an inherent metabolic ability to sustain high levels of ATP in an isolated organ system, providing insight into a metabolic system that is well-adapted for low temperature in vitro organ storage. Frogs of the species, R. pipiens were acclimated at 20 °C and at 5 °C. Livers were preserved using a clinical preservation solution after flushing. Livers from 20 °C-acclimated frogs were stored at 20 °C and 5 °C and livers from 5 °C-acclimated frogs were stored at 5 °C. The results indicated that hepatic adenylate status was maintained for 96 h during 5 °C storage, but not longer than 4–10 h during 20 °C storage. In livers from 5 °C-acclimated animals subjected to 5 °C storage, ATP was maintained at 100% throughout the 96-h period. Warm acclimation (20 °C) and 20 °C storage resulted in poorer maintenance of ATP; energy charge values dropped to 0.50 within 2 h and by 24 h, only 24% of control ATP remained. Lactate levels remained less than 25 μ mol/g dry weight in all 5 °C-stored livers; 20 °C-stored livers exhibited greater accumulation of this anaerobic end-product (lactate reached 45–50 μ mol/g by 10 h). The data imply that hepatic adenylate status is largely dependent on exposure to hypothermic hypoxia and although small amounts of ATP were accounted for by anaerobic glycolysis, there must have been either a substantial reduction in cellular energy-utilization or an efficient use of low oxygen tensions.