Hypoxically induced nitric oxide: potential role as a vasodilator in Mytilus edulis gills

Doris.Abele [ at ] awi.de


Intertidal Mytilus edulis experience rapid transgression to hypoxia when they close their valves during low tide. This induces a physiological stress response aiming to stabilize tissue perfusion against declining oxygen partial pressure in shell water. We hypothesised that nitric oxide (NO) accumulation supports blood vessel opening in hypoxia and used live imaging techniques to measure NO and superoxide anion (O2●−) formation in hypoxia-exposed gill filaments. Thirty minutes of moderate (7 kPa pO2) and severe hypoxia (1 kPa pO2) caused 1.6 and 2.4-fold increase, respectively, of NO accumulation in the endothelial muscle cells of the hemolymphatic vessels of the gill filaments. Dilatation of blood vessel diameter by 43% (7 kPa) and 56% (1 kPa), which significantly facilitates blood flow. Experiments in which we applied the chemical NO-donor Spermine NONOate (concentrations ranging from 1 to 6 mM) under normoxic conditions corroborate the dilatational effect of NO on the blood vessel. The formation of O2●− within the filament epithelial cells increased 1.5 (7 kPa) and 2-fold (1 kPa) upon treatment. Biochemical analysis of mitochondrial electron transport complexes in hypoxia-exposed gill tissue indicates decreased activity of complexes I and III in both hypoxic conditions; whereas complex IV (cytochrome-c oxidase) activity increased at 7 kPa and decreased at 1 kPa compared to normoxic exposure conditions. This corresponds to the pattern of pO2-dependent gill respiration rates recorded in ex-vivo experiments. Severe hypoxia (1 kPa) appears to have a stabilizing effect on NO accumulation in gill cells, since less O2 is available for NO oxidation to nitrite/nitrate. Hypoxia thus supports the NO dependent inhibition of complex IV activity, a mechanism that could fine tune mitochondrial respiration to the local O2 availability in a tissue. Our study highlights a basal function of NO in improving perfusion of hypoxic invertebrate tissues, which could be a key mechanism of tolerance towards environmental O2 variations.

Item Type
Primary Division
Primary Topic
Publication Status
Eprint ID
DOI 10.3389/fphys.2018.01709

Cite as
González, P. M. , Rocchetta, I. , Abele, D. and Rivera-Ingraham, G. (2019): Hypoxically induced nitric oxide: potential role as a vasodilator in Mytilus edulis gills , Frontiers in Physiology, 9 (1709), pp. 1-14 . doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.01709

[thumbnail of Gonzalez_Rocc_Abele_Ingraham_2019_fphys-09-01709.pdf]

Download (2MB) | Preview

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email


Geographical region

Research Platforms


Edit Item Edit Item