Year of Graduation


Level of Access

Open Access Thesis

Embargo Period


Department or Program


First Advisor

Amy Johnson

Second Advisor

Olaf Ellers


During every second of a human’s life, the cardiovascular system is modulated by factors both intrinsic and extrinsic to the physiology of the heart. We can uncover new insights regarding the nature of our system through investigations of similar systems in other model species. One example materializes itself in the form of the American Lobster (Homarus americanus) whose single-chambered heart finds resemblance to the function and anatomy to that of humans. The lobster heart is powered by the cardiac ganglion (CG), a group of neurons that drive contractions of surrounding heart muscles, known as the myocardium. Both the CG and myocardium work in a feedback loop, with both intrinsic (afterload and preload) and extrinsic (temperature and neuropeptides) factors affecting cardiac output (CO) or the overall ability of the heart to carry out its primary function of nutrient distribution. In this paper, we examine how the addition of these factors into in vitro whole heart preparations affect CO and other associated variables. From experimentation, we conclude that the neuropeptide SGRNFLRFamide (SGRN) increases the heartbeat frequency and the active force exerted by the heart. We also conclude that increases in temperature decrease CO as higher temperatures decrease heartbeat frequency and the active force exerted by the heart. Lastly, we conclude that the effect of preload and afterload combined produce more robust effects on the CO and active force of the heart, potentially painting a better picture of what may happen in vivo.