Mechanical and neurophysiological anisotropies mediate three-dimensional responses of the heart of Homarus americanus. Although hearts in vivo are loaded multi-axially by pressure, studies of invertebrate cardiac function typically use uniaxial tests. To generate whole-heart length-tension curves, stretch pyramids at constant lengthening and shortening rates were imposed uniaxially and biaxially along longitudinal and transverse axes of the beating whole heart. To determine whether neuropeptides that are known to modulate cardiac activity in H. americanus affect the active or passive components of these length-tension curves, we also performed these tests in the presence of SGRNFLRFamide (SGRN) and GYSNRNYLRFamide (GYS). In uniaxial and biaxial tests, both passive and active forces increased with stretch along both measurement axes. The increase in passive forces was anisotropic, with greater increases along the longitudinal axis. Passive forces showed hysteresis and active forces were higher during lengthening than shortening phases of the stretch pyramid. Active forces at a given length were increased by both neuropeptides. To exert these effects, neuropeptides might have acted indirectly on the muscle via their effects on the cardiac ganglion, directly on the neuromuscular junction, or directly on the muscles. Because increases in response to stretch were also seen in stimulated motor nerve-muscle preparations, at least some of the effects of the peptides are likely peripheral. Taken together, these findings suggest that flexibility in rhythmic cardiac contractions results from the amplified effects of neuropeptides interacting with the length-tension characteristics of the heart.
Dickinson, E. S.; Johnson, A. S.; Ellers, O.; and Dickinson, P. S., "Forces generated during stretch in the heart of the lobster Homarus americanus are anisotropic and are altered by neuromodulators" (2016). Biology Faculty Publications. 143.