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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Ischemia-induced alterations in the electrocardiogram of salmonid fish

Zena, Lucas A.; Ekstrom, Andreas; Morgenroth, Daniel; Mcarley, Tristan; Grans, Albin; Axelsson, Michael; Johansen, Ida B.; Sandblom, Erik


Cardiovascular diseases such as coronary arteriosclerosis are widespread and constitute severe health and welfare problems for both farmed and wild salmonid fish. However, effective tools for rapid screening and analysing heart diseases in fish do not currently exist. Electrocardiogram (ECG) recordings are widely used for screening and diagnosing numerous cardiac pathologies in humans, but the use of ECG techniques to diagnose and characterize cardiac abnormalities in fish is still in its infancy. In this study, we induced myocardial ischemia in anaesthetized rainbow trout by surgical coronary artery ligation. Additionally, we experimentally manipulated the fish's heart rate and environmental oxygen availability by altering gill water flow and oxygen saturation (i.e., no flow, normoxic flow and hyperoxic flow), and analyzed changes in the ECG profile in detail. The main ECG abnormalities observed in fish with ligated coronaries in normoxia were atrioventricular blocks, prolonged QRS duration, reduced QRS amplitude and changes in the ST-segment such as the presence of early repolarization pattern. Furthermore, when gill water flow was stopped, fish exhibited pronounced hypoxic bradycardia, which alleviated all ECG abnormalities in coronary ligated fish. This is the first study to provide a detailed characterization of electrocardiographic markers of myocardial ischemia in fish. Our study shows that hypoxic bradycardia improves cardiac electrical conductivity, presumably by reducing mismatches in myocardial oxygen supply and demand. Yet, the importance of avoiding hypoxic bradycardia in experimental and biomedical studies on anaesthetized fish is highlighted as it can potentially lead to incorrect ECG interpretations.


Cardiac biomarkers; Hypoxic bradycardia; Myocardial ischemia; Fish welfare; Coronary arteriosclerosis

Published in

2024, Volume: 581, article number: 740482
Publisher: ELSEVIER

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Fish and Aquacultural Science

    Publication identifier


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