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Morphological study of the heart innervation of bats Myotis daubentoni and Eptesicus serotinus (Microchiroptera: Vespertilionidae) during hibernation

Morphological study of the heart innervation of bats Myotis daubentoni and Eptesicus serotinus (Microchiroptera: Vespertilionidae) during hibernation

European Journal of Morphology 38(3): 195-205

The capability of bats to have heart rates fewer than 10 beats/min during hibernation and greater than 700 beats/min during flight surprises biologists and cardiologists. Cardioacceleration of hibernating bats is considered to be a function of their intracardiac nervous system. In the present study we investigated the morphology of the heart innervation of ten M. daubentoni and four E. serotinus bats during their natural hibernation in order to determine which intracardiac structures may be involved in cardioacceleration during their short-term (in av. 15-30 min) arousal from hibernation. The primary conclusions were as follows: (1) The innervation pattern of bats differs from many mammals in that bats have: (a) a subepicardiac nerve plexus which is vastly developed and contains a large number of intrinsic ganglia on both atria and ventricles, and (b) very small diameter axons within the unmyelinated nerve fibres, from 0.15 to 0.7 microm. (2) During hibernation an intercellular space of the sinoatrial node of M. daubentoni bats was in part filled with a cottony substance which can presumably be considered to be a temporary barrier between the conductive cardiomyocytes and nerve fibres. (3) In the hibernating bats, the acetylcholine vesicles were aggregated in the synaptic bulbs away from the presynaptic membrane. Possibly, the aggregation of the acetylcholine vesicles is capable of modifying cholinergic influences on the heart activity of hibernating bats. (4) The dense cores of catecholamine synaptic vesicles within, adrenergic axon terminals were seldomly observed in hibernating bats. Therefore, catecholamines probably do not play a crucial role in the cardioacceleration of hibernating bats.

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Accession: 046728579

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PMID: 10916173

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