circulable /serr"kyeuh leuh beuhl/, adj.
/serr'kyeuh lay"sheuhn/, n.
1. an act or instance of circulating, moving in a circle or circuit, or flowing.
2. the continuous movement of blood through the heart and blood vessels, which is maintained chiefly by the action of the heart, and by which nutrients, oxygen, and internal secretions are carried to and wastes are carried from the body tissues.
3. any similar circuit, passage, or flow, as of the sap in plants or air currents in a room.
4. the transmission or passage of anything from place to place or person to person: the circulation of a rumor; the circulation of money.
5. the distribution of copies of a periodical among readers.
6. the number of copies of each issue of a newspaper, magazine, etc., distributed.
7. coins, notes, bills, etc., in use as money; currency.
8. Library Science.
a. the lending of library books and other materials.
b. the number of books and materials that a library has lent.
c. the processes connected with providing for the use of library materials, including reserve operations, recall, and record-keeping.
9. Hydraul. a quantity analogous to work and equal to the line integral of the component of fluid velocity about a closed contour.
10. in circulation, participating actively in social or business life: After a month in the hospital, he's back in circulation.
[1400-50 for an earlier alchemical sense; 1645-55 for def. 1; late ME circulacioun < L circulation- (s. of circulatio), equiv. to circulat(us) (see CIRCULATE) + -ion- -ION]

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Process by which nutrients, respiratory gases, and metabolic products are transported throughout the body.

In humans, blood remains within a closed cardiovascular system composed of the heart, blood vessels, and blood. Arteries carry blood away from the heart under high pressure exerted by the heart's pumping action. Arteries divide into smaller arterioles, which branch into a network of tiny capillaries with thin walls across which gases and nutrients diffuse. Capillaries rejoin into larger venules, which unite to form veins, which carry blood back to the heart. (See artery; capillary; vein.) The right and left heart chambers send blood into separate pulmonary and systemic circulations. In the first, blood is carried from the heart to the lungs, where it picks up oxygen and releases carbon dioxide; in the second, blood is carried between the heart and the rest of the body, where it carries oxygen, nutrients, metabolic products, and wastes.

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▪ anatomy and physiology
 the process by which nutrients, respiratory gases, and metabolic products are transported throughout a living organism, permitting integration among the various tissues. The process includes the intake of metabolic materials, the conveyance of these materials throughout the organism, and the return of harmful by-products to the environment.

      Invertebrate animals have a great variety of liquids, cells, and modes of circulation, though many invertebrates have what is called an open system, in which fluid passes more or less freely throughout the tissues or defined areas of tissue. All vertebrates, however, have a closed system—that is, their circulatory system transmits fluid through an intricate network of vessels. This system contains two fluids, blood and lymph, and functions by means of two interacting modes of circulation, the cardiovascular system and the lymphatic system; both the fluid components and the vessels through which they flow reach their greatest elaboration and specialization in the mammalian systems and, particularly, in the human body.

      A full treatment of human blood and its various components can be found in the article human blood (blood). A discussion of how the systems of circulation, respiration, and metabolism work together within an animal organism is found in the article respiration.


Main features of circulatory systems

General features of circulation
      All living organisms take in molecules (molecule) from their environments, use them to support the metabolism of their own substance, and release by-products back into the environment. The internal environment differs more or less greatly from the external environment, depending on the species. It is normally maintained at constant conditions by the organism so that it is subject to relatively minor fluctuations. In individual cells (cell), either as independent organisms or as parts of the tissues of multicellular animals, molecules are taken in either by their direct diffusion through the cell wall or by the formation by the surface membrane of vacuoles that carry some of the environmental fluid containing dissolved molecules. Within the cell, cyclosis (cytoplasmic streaming) (streaming of the fluid cytoplasm) distributes the metabolic products.

      Molecules are normally conveyed between cells and throughout the body of multicellular organisms in a circulatory fluid, called blood, through special channels, called blood vessels, by some form of pump, which, if restricted in position, is usually called a heart. In vertebrates blood and lymph (the circulating fluids) have an essential role in maintaining homeostasis (the constancy of the internal environment) by distributing substances to parts of the body when required and by removing others from areas in which their accumulation would be harmful.

      One phylum, Cnidaria (cnidarian) (Coelenterata)—which includes sea anemones, jellyfish, and corals—has a diploblastic level of organization (i.e., its members have two layers of cells). The outer layer, called the ectoderm, and the inner layer, called the endoderm, are separated by an amorphous, acellular layer called the mesoglea; for these animals, bathing both cellular surfaces with environmental fluid is sufficient to supply their metabolic needs. All other major eumetazoan phyla (i.e., those with defined tissues and organs) are triploblastic (i.e., their members have three layers of cells), with the third cellular layer, called the mesoderm, developing between the endoderm and ectoderm. At its simplest, the mesoderm provides a network of packing cells around the animal's organs; this is probably best exhibited in the phylum Platyhelminthes (flatworms).

      Nematoda, Rotifera, and a number of other smaller eumetazoan classes and phyla have a fluid-filled cavity, called the pseudocoelom, that arises from an embryonic cavity and contains the internal organs free within it. All other eumetazoans have a body cavity, the coelom, which originates as a cavity in the embryonic mesoderm. Mesoderm lines the coelom and forms the peritoneum, which also surrounds and supports the internal organs. While this increase in complexity allows for increase in animal size, it has certain problems. As the distances from metabolizing cells to the source of metabolites (molecules to be metabolized) increases, a means of distribution around the body is necessary for all but the smallest coelomates.

      Many invertebrate animals are aquatic and the problem of supplying fluid is not critical. For terrestrial organisms, however, the fluid reaching the tissues comes from water that has been drunk, absorbed in the alimentary canal, and passed to the bloodstream. Fluid may leave the blood, usually with food and other organic molecules in solution, and pass to the tissues, from which it returns in the form of lymph. Especially in the vertebrates, lymph passes through special pathways, called lymphatic channels, to provide the lymphatic circulation.

      In many invertebrates, however, the circulating fluid is not confined to distinct vessels, and it more or less freely bathes the organs directly. The functions of both circulating and tissue fluid are thus combined in the fluid, often known as hemolymph. The possession of a blood supply and coelom, however, does not exclude the circulation of environmental water through the body. Members of the phylum Echinodermata (starfishes and sea urchins, for example) have a complex water vascular system used mainly for locomotion.

      An internal circulatory system transports essential gases and nutrients around the body of an organism, removes unwanted products of metabolism from the tissues, and carries these products to specialized excretory organs, if present. Although a few invertebrate animals circulate external water through their bodies for respiration, and, in the case of cnidarians, nutrition, most species circulate an internal fluid, called blood.

      There may also be external circulation that sets up currents in the environmental fluid to carry it over respiratory surfaces and, especially in the case of sedentary animals, to carry particulate food that is strained out and passed to the alimentary canal. Additionally, the circulatory system may assist the organism in movement; for example, protoplasmic streaming in amoeboid protozoans circulates nutrients and provides pseudopodal locomotion. The hydrostatic pressure built up in the circulatory systems of many invertebrates is used for a range of whole-body and individual-organ movement.

Body fluids
      The fluid compartments of animals consist of intracellular and extracellular components. The intracellular component includes the body cells and, where present, the blood cells, while the extracellular component includes the tissue fluid, coelomic fluid, and blood plasma. In all cases the major constituent is water derived from the environment. The composition of the fluid varies markedly depending on its source and is regulated more or less precisely by homeostasis.

      Blood and coelomic fluid are often physically separated by the blood-vessel walls; where a hemocoel (a blood-containing body cavity) exists, however, blood rather than coelomic fluid occupies the cavity. The composition of blood may vary from what is little more than the environmental water containing small amounts of dissolved nutrients and gases to the highly complex tissue containing many cells of different types found in mammals.

      Lymph essentially consists of blood plasma that has left the blood vessels and has passed through the tissues. It is generally considered to have a separate identity when it is returned to the bloodstream through a series of vessels independent of the blood vessels and the coelomic space. Coelomic fluid itself may circulate in the body cavity. In most cases this circulation has an apparently random nature, mainly because of movements of the body and organs. In some phyla, however, the coelomic fluid has a more important role in internal distribution and is circulated by ciliary (cilium) tracts.

Fluid compartments
      Blood is circulated through vessels of the blood vascular system. Blood is moved through this system by some form of pump. The simplest pump, or heart, may be no more than a vessel along which a wave of contraction passes to propel the blood. This simple, tubular heart is adequate where low blood pressure and relatively slow circulation rates are sufficient to supply the animal's metabolic requirements, but it is inadequate in larger, more active, and more demanding species. In the latter animals, the heart is usually a specialized, chambered, muscular pump that receives blood under low pressure and returns it under higher pressure to the circulation. Where the flow of blood is in one direction, as is normally the case, valves in the form of flaps of tissue prevent backflow.

      A characteristic feature of hearts is that they pulsate throughout life and any prolonged cessation of heartbeat is fatal. Contractions of the heart muscle may be initiated in one of two ways. In the first, the heart muscle may have an intrinsic contractile property that is independent of the nervous system. This myogenic contraction is found in all vertebrates and some invertebrates. In the second, the heart is stimulated by nerve impulses from outside the heart muscle. The hearts of other invertebrates exhibit this neurogenic contraction.

      Chambered hearts, as found in vertebrates and some larger invertebrates, consist of a series of interconnected muscular compartments separated by valves. The first chamber, the auricle, acts as a reservoir to receive the blood that then passes to the second and main pumping chamber, the ventricle. Expansion of a chamber is known as diastole and contraction as systole. As one chamber undergoes systole the other undergoes diastole, thus forcing the blood forward. The series of events during which blood is passed through the heart is known as the cardiac cycle.

      Contraction of the ventricle forces the blood into the vessels under pressure, known as the blood pressure. As contraction continues in the ventricle, the rising pressure is sufficient to open the valves that had been closed because of attempted reverse blood flow during the previous cycle. At this point the ventricular pressure transmits a high-speed wave, the pulse, through the blood of the arterial (artery) system. The volume of blood pumped at each contraction of the ventricle is known as the stroke volume (cardiac output), and the output is usually dependent on the animal's activity.

      After leaving the heart, the blood passes through a series of branching vessels of steadily decreasing diameter. The smallest branches, only a few micrometres (there are about 25,000 micrometres in one inch) in diameter, are the capillaries (capillary), which have thin walls through which the fluid part of the blood may pass to bathe the tissue cells. The capillaries also pick up metabolic end products and carry them into larger collecting vessels that eventually return the blood to the heart. In vertebrates there are structural differences between the muscularly walled arteries, which carry the blood under high pressure from the heart, and the thinner walled veins (vein), which return it at much reduced pressure. Although such structural differences are less apparent in invertebrates, the terms artery and vein are used for vessels that carry blood from and to the heart, respectively.

      The closed circulatory system found in vertebrates is not universal; a number of invertebrate phyla have an “open” system. In the latter animals, the blood leaving the heart passes into a series of open spaces, called sinuses (sinus), where it bathes internal organs directly. Such a body cavity is called a hemocoel, a term that reflects the amalgamation of the blood system and the coelom.

invertebrate circulatory systems

Basic physicochemical considerations
      To maintain optimum metabolism, all living cells require a suitable environment, which must be maintained within relatively narrow limits. An appropriate gas phase (i.e., suitable levels of oxygen and other gases), an adequate and suitable nutrient supply, and a means of disposal of unwanted products are all essential.

      Direct diffusion through the body surface supplies the necessary gases and nutrients for small organisms, but even some single-celled protozoa have a rudimentary circulatory system. Cyclosis (cytoplasmic streaming) in many ciliates carries food vacuoles—which form at the forward end of the gullet (cytopharynx)—on a more or less fixed route around the cell, while digestion occurs to a fixed point of discharge.

      For most animal cells, the supply of oxygen is largely independent of the animal and therefore is a limiting factor in its metabolism and ultimately in its structure and distribution. The nutrient supply to the tissues, however, is controlled by the animal itself, and, because both major catabolic end products of metabolism—ammonia (NH3) and carbon dioxide (CO2)—are more soluble than oxygen (O2) in water and the aqueous phase of the body fluids, they tend not to limit metabolic rates. The diffusion rate of CO2 is less than that of O2, but its solubility is 30 times that of oxygen. This means that the amount of CO2 diffusing is 26 times as high as for oxygen at the same temperature and pressure.

      The oxygen available to a cell depends on the concentration of oxygen in the external environment and the efficiency with which it is transported to the tissues. Dry air at atmospheric pressure contains about 21 percent oxygen, the percentage of which decreases with increasing altitude. Well-aerated water has the same percentage of oxygen as the surrounding air; however, the amount of dissolved oxygen is governed by temperature and the presence of other solutes. For example, seawater contains 20 percent less oxygen than fresh water under the same conditions.

      The rate of diffusion depends on the shape and size of the diffusing molecule, the medium through which it diffuses, the concentration gradient, and the temperature. These physicochemical constraints imposed by gaseous diffusion have a relationship with animal respiration. Investigations have suggested that a spherical organism larger than 0.5 millimetre (0.02 inch) radius would not obtain enough oxygen for the given metabolic rate, and so a supplementary transport mechanism would be required. Many invertebrates are small, with direct diffusion distances of less than 0.5 millimetre. Considerably larger species, however, still survive without an internal circulatory system.

Animals without independent vascular systems
      A sphere represents the smallest possible ratio of surface area to volume; modifications in architecture, reduction of metabolic rate, or both may be exploited to allow size increase. Sponges (sponge) overcome the problem of oxygen supply and increase the chance of food capture by passing water through their many pores using ciliary action. The level of organization of sponges is that of a coordinated aggregation of largely independent cells with poorly defined tissues and no organ systems. The whole animal has a relatively massive surface area for gaseous exchange, and all cells are in direct contact with the passing water current.

      Among the eumetazoan (multicellular) animals the cnidarians (cnidarian) (sea anemones (sea anemone), corals (coral), and jellyfish) are diploblastic, the inner endoderm and outer ectoderm being separated by an acellular mesoglea. Sea anemones and corals may also grow to considerable size and exhibit complex external structure that, again, has the effect of increasing surface area. Their fundamentally simple structure—with a gastrovascular cavity continuous with the external environmental water—allows both the endodermal and ectodermal cells of the body wall access to aerated water, permitting direct diffusion.

      This arrangement is found in a number of other invertebrates, such as Ctenophora (comb jellies), and is exploited further by jellyfish, which also show a rudimentary internal circulatory system. The thick, largely acellular, gelatinous bell of a large jellyfish may attain a diameter of 40 centimetres (16 inches) or more. The gastrovascular cavity is modified to form a series of water-filled canals that ramify through the bell and extend from the central gastric pouches to a circular canal that follows the periphery of the umbrella. Ciliary activity within the canals slowly passes food particles and water, taken in through the mouth, from the gastric pouches (where digestion is initiated) to other parts of the body. Ciliary activity is a relatively inefficient means of translocating fluids, and it may take up to half an hour to complete a circulatory cycle through even a small species. To compensate for the inefficiency of the circulation, the metabolic rate of the jellyfish is low, and organic matter makes up only a small proportion of the total body constituents. The central mass of the umbrella may be a considerable distance from either the exumbrella surface or the canal system, and, while it contains some wandering amoeboid cells, its largely acellular nature means that its metabolic requirements are small.

Vascular systems
      While ciliary respiratory currents are sufficient to supply the requirements of animals with simple epithelial tissues and low metabolic rates, most species whose bodies contain a number of organ systems require a more efficient circulatory system. Many invertebrates and all vertebrates have a closed vascular system in which the circulatory fluid is totally confined within a series of vessels consisting of arteries, veins, and fine linking capillaries. Insects, most crustaceans, and many mollusks, however, have an open system in which the circulating fluid passes somewhat freely among the tissues before being collected and recirculated.

      The distinction between open and closed circulatory systems may not be as great as was once thought; some crustaceans have vessels with dimensions similar to those of vertebrate capillaries before opening into tissue sinuses. The circulatory fluid in open systems is strictly hemolymph, but the term “ blood” is commonly used to denote the transporting medium in both open and closed systems. Compared with closed systems, open circulatory systems generally work at lower pressures, and the rate of fluid return to the heart is slower. Blood distribution to individual organs is not regulated easily, and the open system is not as well-adapted for rapid response to change.

      The primary body cavity (coelom) of triploblastic multicellular organisms arises from the central mesoderm, which emerges from between the endoderm and ectoderm during embryonic development. The fluid of the coelom containing free mesodermal cells constitutes the blood and lymph. The composition of blood varies between different organisms and within one organism at different stages during its circulation. Essentially, however, the blood consists of an aqueous plasma containing sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride, and sulfate ions; some trace elements; a number of amino acids; and possibly a protein known as a respiratory pigment. If present in invertebrates, the respiratory pigments are normally dissolved in the plasma and are not enclosed in blood cells. The constancy of the ionic constituents of blood and their similarity to seawater have been used by some scientists as evidence of a common origin for life in the sea.

      An animal's ability to control its gross blood concentration (i.e., the overall ionic concentration of the blood) largely governs its ability to tolerate environmental changes. In many marine invertebrates, such as echinoderms and some mollusks, the osmotic and ionic characteristics of the blood closely resemble those of seawater. Other aquatic, and all terrestrial, organisms, however, maintain blood concentrations that differ to some extent from their environments and thus have a greater potential range of habitats. In addition to maintaining the overall stability of the internal environment, blood has a range of other functions. It is the major means of transport of nutrients, metabolites, excretory products, hormones, and gases, and it may provide the mechanical force for such diverse processes as hatching and molting in arthropods and burrowing in bivalve mollusks.

      Invertebrate blood may contain a number of cells (hemocytes) arising from the embryonic mesoderm. Many different types of hemocytes have been described in different species, but they have been studied most extensively in insects, in which four major types and functions have been suggested: (1) phagocytic (phagocytosis) cells that ingest foreign particles and parasites and in this way may confer some nonspecific immunity to the insect; (2) flattened hemocytes that adhere to the surface of the invader and remove its supply of oxygen, resulting in its death; metazoan parasites that are too large to be engulfed by the phagocytic cells may be encapsulated by these cells instead; (3) hemocytes that assist in the formation of connective tissue and the secretion of mucopolysaccharides during the formation of basement membranes; they may be involved in other aspects of intermediate metabolism as well; and (4) hemocytes that are concerned with wound healing; the plasma of many insects does not coagulate, and either pseudopodia or secreted particles from hemocytes (cystocytes) trap other such cells to close the lesion until the surface of the skin regenerates.

      While the solubility of oxygen in blood plasma is adequate to supply the tissues of some relatively sedentary invertebrates, more active animals with increased oxygen demands require an additional oxygen carrier. The oxygen carriers in blood take the form of metal (iron)-containing protein molecules that frequently are coloured and thus commonly known as respiratory pigments. The most widely distributed respiratory pigments are the red hemoglobins (hemoglobin), which have been reported in all classes of vertebrates, in most invertebrate phyla, and even in some plants. Hemoglobins consist of a variable number of subunits, each containing an iron–porphyrin group attached to a protein. The distribution of hemoglobins in just a few members of a phylum and in many different phyla argues that the hemoglobin type of molecule must have evolved many times with similar iron–porphyrin groups and different proteins.

      The green chlorocruorins are also iron–porphyrin pigments and are found in the blood of a number of families of marine polychaete worms. There is a close resemblance between chlorocruorin and hemoglobin molecules, and a number of species of a genus, such as those of Serpula, contain both, while some closely related species exhibit an almost arbitrary distribution. For example, Spirorbis borealis has chlorocruorin, S. corrugatus has hemoglobin, and S. militaris has neither.

      The third iron-containing pigments, the hemerythrins, are violet. They differ structurally from both hemoglobin and chlorocruorin in having no porphyrin groups and containing three times as much iron, which is attached directly to the protein. Hemerythrins are restricted to a small number of animals, including some polychaete and sipunculid worms, the brachiopod Lingula, and some priapulids.

      Hemocyanins are copper-containing respiratory pigments found in many mollusks (some bivalves, many gastropods, and cephalopods) and arthropods (many crustaceans, some arachnids, and the horseshoe crab, Limulus). They are colourless when deoxygenated but turn blue on oxygenation. The copper is bound directly to the protein, and oxygen combines reversibly in the proportion of one oxygen molecule to two copper atoms.

      The presence of a respiratory pigment greatly increases the oxygen-carrying capacity of blood; invertebrate blood may contain up to 10 percent oxygen with the pigment, compared with about 0.3 percent in the absence of the pigment. All respiratory pigments become almost completely saturated with oxygen even at oxygen levels, or pressures, below those normally found in air or water. The oxygen pressures at which the various pigments become saturated depend on their individual chemical characteristics and on such conditions as temperature, pH, and the presence of carbon dioxide.

      In addition to their direct transport role, respiratory pigments may temporarily store oxygen for use during periods of respiratory suspension or decreased oxygen availability (hypoxia). They may also act as buffers to prevent large blood pH fluctuations, and they may have an osmotic function that helps to reduce fluid loss from aquatic organisms whose internal hydrostatic pressure tends to force water out of the body.

      All systems involving the consistent movement of circulating fluid require at least one repeating pump and, if flow is to be in one direction, usually some arrangement of valves to prevent backflow. The simplest form of animal circulatory pump consists of a blood vessel down which passes a wave of muscular contraction, called peristalsis, that forces the enclosed blood in the direction of contraction. Valves may or may not be present. This type of heart is widely found among invertebrates, and there may be many pulsating vessels in a single individual.

      In the earthworm, the main dorsal (aligned along the back) vessel contracts from posterior to anterior 15 to 20 times per minute, pumping blood toward the head. At the same time, the five paired segmental lateral (side) vessels, which branch from the dorsal vessel and link it to the ventral (aligned along the bottom) vessel, pulsate with their own independent rhythms. Although unusual, it is possible for a peristaltic heart to reverse direction. After a series of contractions in one direction, the hearts of tunicates (sea squirts) gradually slow down and eventually stop. After a pause the heart starts again, with reverse contractions pumping the blood in the opposite direction.

      An elaboration of the simple peristaltic heart is found in the tubular heart of most arthropods, in which part of the dorsal vessel is expanded to form one or more linearly arranged chambers with muscular walls. The walls are perforated by pairs of lateral openings (ostia) that allow blood to flow into the heart from a large surrounding sinus, the pericardium. The heart may be suspended by alary muscles, contraction of which expands the heart and increases blood flow into it. The direction of flow is controlled by valves arranged in front of the in-current ostia.

      Chambered hearts with valves and relatively thick muscular walls are less commonly found in invertebrates but do occur in some mollusks, especially cephalopods (octopus and squid). Blood from the gills (gill) enters one to four auricles (depending on the species) and is passed back to the tissues by contraction of the ventricle. The direction of flow is controlled by valves between the chambers. The filling and emptying of the heart are controlled by regular rhythmical contractions of the muscular wall.

      In addition to the main systemic heart, many species have accessory booster hearts at critical points in the circulatory system. Cephalopods have special muscular dilations, the branchial hearts, that pump blood through the capillaries, and insects may have additional ampullar hearts at the points of attachment of many of their appendages.

      The control of heart rhythm may be either myogenic (originating within the heart muscle itself) or neurogenic (originating in nerve ganglia). The hearts of the invertebrate mollusks, like those of vertebrates, are myogenic. They are sensitive to pressure and fail to give maximum beats unless distended; the beats become stronger and more frequent with increasing blood pressure. Although under experimental conditions acetylcholine (a substance that transmits nerve impulses across a synapse) inhibits molluscan heartbeat, indicating some stimulation of the heart muscle by the nervous system, cardiac muscle contraction will continue in excised hearts with no connection to the central nervous system. tunicate hearts have two noninnervated, myogenic pacemakers, one at each end of the peristaltic pulsating vessel. Separately, each pacemaker causes a series of normal beats followed by a sequence of abnormal ones; together, they provide periodic reversals of blood flow.

      The control of heartbeat in most other invertebrates is neurogenic, and one or more nerve ganglia with attendant nerve fibres control contraction. Removal of the ganglia stops the heart, and the administration of acetylcholine increases its rate. Adult heart control may be neurogenic but not necessarily in all stages in the life cycle. The embryonic heart may show myogenic peristaltic contractions prior to innervation.

      Heart rate differs markedly among species and under different physiological states of a given individual. In general it is lower in sedentary or sluggish animals and faster in small ones. The rate increases with internal pressure but often reaches a plateau at optimal pressures. Normally, increasing the body temperature 10° C (50° F) causes an increase in heart rate of two to three times. Oxygen availability and the presence of carbon dioxide affect the heart rate, and during periods of hypoxia the heart rate may decrease to almost a standstill to conserve oxygen stores.

      The time it takes for blood to complete a single circulatory cycle is also highly variable but tends to be much longer in invertebrates than in vertebrates. For example, in isolation, the circulation rate in mammals is about 10 to 30 seconds, for crustaceans about one minute, for cockroaches five to six minutes, and for other insects almost 30 minutes.

Acoelomates and pseudocoelomates
      At the simplest levels of metazoan organization, where there are at most two cell layers, the tissues are arranged in sheets. The necessity for a formal circulatory system does not exist, nor are the mesodermal tissues, normally forming one, present. The addition of the mesodermal layer allows greater complexity of organ development and introduces further problems in supplying all cells with their essential requirements.

      Invertebrate phyla have developed a number of solutions to these problems; most but not all involve the development of a circulatory system: as described above, sponges and cnidarians permit all cells direct access to environmental water. Among the acoelomate phyla, the members of Platyhelminthes (flatworms (flatworm)) have no body cavity, and the space between the gut and the body wall, when present, is filled with a spongy organ tissue of mesodermal cells through which tissue fluids may percolate. Dorsoventral (back to front) flattening, ramifying gut ceca (cavities open at one end), and, in the endoparasitic flatworm forms, glycolytic metabolic pathways (which release metabolic energy in the absence of oxygen) reduce diffusion distances and the need for oxygen and allow the trematodes and turbellarians of this phylum to maintain their normal metabolic rates in the absence of an independent circulatory system. The greatly increased and specialized body surface of the cestodes (tapeworms) of this phylum has allowed them to dispense with the gut as well. Most of the other acoelomate invertebrate animals are small enough that direct diffusion constitutes the major means of internal transport.

      One acoelomate phylum, Nemertea (ribbon worm) (proboscis worms), contains the simplest animals possessing a true vascular system. In its basic form there may be only two vessels situated one on each side of the straight gut. The vessels unite anteriorly by a cephalic space and posteriorly by an anal space lined by a thin membrane. The system is thus closed, and the blood does not directly bathe the tissues. The main vessels are contractile, but blood flow is irregular and it may move backward or forward within an undefined circuit. The blood is usually colourless, although some species contain pigmented blood cells whose function remains obscure; phagocytic amoebocytes are usually also present. Although remaining fundamentally simple, the system can grow more elaborate with the addition of extra vessels.

      Pseudocoelomate metazoans have a fluid-filled body cavity, the pseudocoelom, which, unlike a true coelom, does not have a cellular peritoneal lining. Most of the pseudocoelomates (e.g., the classes Nematoda and Rotifera) are small and none possess an independent vascular system. Muscular body and locomotor movements may help to circulate nutrients within the pseudocoelom between the gut and the body wall. The lacunar system of channels within the body wall of the gutless acanthocephalans (spiny-headed worms) may represent a means of circulation of nutrients absorbed through the body wall. Hemoglobin has been found in the pseudocoelomic fluid of a number of nematodes, but its precise role in oxygen transport is not known.

      Despite their greater potential complexity, many of the minor coelomate phyla (e.g., Pogonophora, Sipuncula, and Bryozoa) contain small animals that rely on direct diffusion and normal muscular activity to circulate the coelomic fluid. All of the major and some of the minor phyla have well-developed blood vascular systems, often of open design.

      While some small segmented worms of the phylum Annelida have no separate circulatory system, most have a well-developed closed system. The typical arrangement is for the main contractile dorsal vessel to carry blood anteriorly while a number of vertical segmental vessels, often called hearts, carry it to the ventral vessel, in which it passes posteriorly. Segmental branches supply and collect blood from the respiratory surfaces, the gut, and the excretory organs.

      There is, however, great scope for variation on the basic circulatory pattern. Many species have a large intestinal sinus rather than a series of vessels supplying the gut, and there may be differences along the length of a single individual. The posterior blood may flow through an intestinal sinus, the medial flow through a dense capillary plexus, and the anterior flow through typical segmental capillaries. Much modification and complication may occur in species in which the body is divided into more or less distinct regions with specific functions.

      Many polychaete worms (class Polychaeta), especially the fanworms but also representatives of other families, have many blind-ending contractile vessels. Continual reversals of flow within these vessels virtually replace the normal continuous-flow capillary system.

      In most leeches (leech) (class Hirudinea), much of the coelomic space is filled with mesodermal connective tissue, leaving a series of interconnecting coelomic channels. A vascular system comparable to other annelids is present in a few species, but in most the coelomic channels containing blood (strictly coelomic fluid) have taken over the function of internal transport, with movement induced by contraction of longitudinal lateral channels.

      The blood of many annelids contains a respiratory pigment dissolved in the plasma, and the coelomic fluid of others may contain coelomic blood cells containing hemoglobin. The most common blood pigments are hemoglobin and chlorocruorin, but their occurrence does not fit any simple evolutionary pattern. Closely related species may have dissimilar pigments, while distant relatives may have similar ones. In many species the pigments function in oxygen transport, but in others they are probably more important as oxygen stores for use during periods of hypoxia.

      In addition to internal circulation, many polychaete worms also set up circulatory currents for feeding and respiration. Tube-dwelling worms may use muscular activity to pass a current of oxygenated water containing food through their burrows, while filter-feeding fanworms use ciliary activity to establish complicated patterns of water flow through their filtering fans.

      The phylum Echiura (spoonworms (spoonworm)) contains a small number of marine worms with a circulatory system of similar general pattern to that of the annelids. Main dorsal and ventral vessels are united by contractile circumintestinal vessels that pump the colourless blood. Coelomic fluid probably aids in oxygen transport and may contain some cells with hemoglobin.

      With the exception of the cephalopods, members of the phylum Mollusca have an open circulatory system. The chambered, myogenic heart normally has a pair of posterior auricles draining the gills and an anterior ventricle that pumps the blood through the anterior aorta to the tissue sinuses, excretory organs, and gills. Many gastropods lack a second set of gills, and in these the right auricle is vestigial or absent. The heart is enclosed within the coelomic cavity, which also surrounds part of the intestine. The single aorta branches, and blood is delivered into arterial sinuses, where it directly bathes the tissues. It is collected in a large venous cephalopedal sinus and, after passing through the excretory organs, returns to the gills. The hydrostatic pressure that develops in the blood sinuses of the foot, especially of bivalve mollusks, is used in locomotion. Blood flow into the foot is controlled by valves: as the pressure increases, the foot elongates and anchors into the substratum; muscular contraction then pulls the animal back down to the foot. This type of locomotion is seen most commonly in burrowing species, who move through the substratum almost exclusively by this means.

      Like the annelids, many mollusks, especially the more sedentary bivalves, set up local feeding and respiratory currents. Fluid movement through the mantle cavity normally depends on muscular pumping through inhalant and exhalant siphons. Within the cavity itself, however, ciliary activity maintains continuous movement across the gill surfaces, collecting food particles and passing them to the mouth.

      The cephalopods (cephalopod) are more active than other mollusks and consequently have higher metabolic rates and circulatory systems of a higher order of organization. These systems are closed with distinct arteries, veins, and capillaries; the blood (6 percent of body weight) remains distinct from the interstitial fluid (15 percent of body weight). These relative percentages of body weight to blood volume are similar to those of vertebrates and differ markedly from those of species with open circulatory systems, in which hemolymph may constitute 40 to 50 percent of body weight.

      The cephalopod heart usually consists of a median ventricle and two auricles. Arterial blood is pumped from the ventricle through anterior and posterior aortas that supply the head and body, respectively. It is passed through the capillary beds of the organs, is collected, and is returned to the heart through a major venous vessel, the vena cava. The vena cava bifurcates (divides into two branches) near the excretory organs, and each branch enters the nephridial sac before passing to the accessory hearts situated at the base of the gills. Veins draining the anterior and posterior mantle and the gonads merge with the branches of the vena cava before reaching the branchial hearts. Contraction of the branchial hearts increases the blood pressure and forces blood through the gill capillaries. The auricles then drain the gills of oxygenated blood.

      The blood of most mollusks, including cephalopods, contains hemocyanin, although a few gastropods use hemoglobin. In the cephalopods the pigment unloads at relatively high oxygen pressures, indicating that it is used to transport rather than store oxygen.

      Rapid cephalopod locomotion depends almost entirely on water pressure. During inhalation, muscular activity within the mantle wall increases the volume of the mantle cavity and water rushes in. Contraction of the circular mantle muscles closes the edge of the mantle and reduces its volume, forcing the enclosed water through the mobile funnel at high pressure. The force of water leaving the funnel propels the animal in the opposite direction.

      Members of the phylum Brachiopoda ( lamp shells) superficially resemble the mollusks but are not related. The circulatory system of brachiopods is open and consists of a small contractile heart situated over the gut, from which anterior and posterior channels supply sinuses in the wall of the gut, the mantle wall, and the reproductive organs.

      The blood vascular system of arthropods is open. The coelom is much reduced, and most of the spaces in the arthropod body are hemocoels. The tubular heart is dorsal and contained in a pericardial sinus. Blood is pumped from the heart through a series of vessels (arteries) that lead to the tissue sinuses. Although the blood flows freely through the tissues it may, especially in the larger species, be directed by membranes along a more or less constant pathway. The blood collects in a ventral sinus from which it is conducted back to the heart through one or more venous channels.

      Variations in the circulatory patterns of the different classes of the phylum Arthropoda largely reflect the method of respiratory exchange and consequent function of the blood vascular system. Most of the aquatic species of the class Crustacea (crustacean) have gills with a well-developed circulatory system, including accessory hearts to increase blood flow through the gills. A small number of species lack gills and a heart, and oxygen is absorbed through the body surface; bodily movements or peristaltic gut contractions circulate the blood within the tissue spaces.

      In the mainly terrestrial class Insecta, the role of oxygen transport has been removed from the blood and taken over by the ramifying tracheal system that carries gaseous atmospheric oxygen directly to the consuming tissues. Insects are able to maintain the high metabolic rates necessary for flight while retaining a relatively inefficient circulatory system.

      Among the chelicerate (possessing fanglike front appendages) arthropods (for example, scorpions, spiders, ticks, and mites), the horseshoe crab, Limulus, has a series of book gills (gills arranged in membranous folds) on either side of the body into which blood from the ventral sinus passes for oxygenation prior to return to the heart. The largely terrestrial arachnids (arachnid) may have book lungs that occupy a similar position in the circulatory pathway, a tracheal system comparable to that of insects, or, in the case of smaller species, reduced tracheal and vascular systems in which contractions of the body muscles cause blood circulation through the sinus network.

      The legs of spiders (spider) are unusual because they lack extensor muscles and because blood is used as hydraulic fluid to extend the legs in opposition to flexor muscles. The blood pressure of a resting spider is equal to that of a human being and may double during activity. The high pressure is maintained by valves in the anterior aorta and represents an exception to the general rule that open circulatory systems only function at low pressure.

Echinodermata (echinoderm)
      The circulatory systems of echinoderms (sea urchins, starfishes, and sea cucumbers) are complicated as they have three largely independent fluid systems. The large fluid-filled coelom that surrounds the internal organs constitutes the major medium for internal transport. Circulatory currents set up by the ciliated cells of the coelomic lining distribute nutrients from the gut to the body wall. Phagocytic coelomocytes are present, and in some species these contain hemoglobin. The coelomic fluid has the same osmotic pressure as seawater, and the inability to regulate that pressure has confined the echinoderms to wholly marine habitats.

      The blood-vascular (hemal) system is reduced and consists of small, fluid-filled sinuses that lack a distinct lining. The system is most highly developed in the holothurians (sea cucumbers (sea cucumber)), in which it consists of an anterior hemal ring and radial hemal sinuses. The most prominent features are the dorsal and ventral sinuses, which accompany the intestine and supply it through numerous smaller channels. The dorsal sinus is contractile, and fluid is pumped through the intestinal sinuses into the ventral sinus and thence to the hemal ring. Most members of the class Holothuroidea have a pair of respiratory trees, located in the coelom on either side of the intestine, which act as the major sites for respiratory exchange. Each tree consists of a main tubular trunk with numerous side branches, each ending in a small vesicle. Water is passed through the tubules by the pumping action of the cloaca. The branches of the left tree are intermingled with the intestinal hemal sinuses and provide a means of oxygenating the blood via the coelomic fluid. The right tree is free in the coelomic fluid and has no close association with the hemal system. Respiratory exchange in other echinoderms is through thin areas of the body wall, and the hemal system tends to be reduced.

      The water vascular system of echinoderms is best developed in the starfishes and functions as a means of locomotion and respiratory exchange. The entire system consists of a series of fluid-filled canals lined with ciliated epithelium and derived from the coelom. The canals connect to the outside through a porous, button-shaped plate, called the madreporite, which is united via a duct (the stone canal) with a circular canal (ring canal) that circumvents the mouth. Long canals radiate from the water ring into each arm. Lateral canals branch alternately from the radial canals, each terminating in a muscular sac (or ampulla) and a tube foot (podium), which commonly has a flattened tip that can act as a sucker. Contraction of the sac results in a valve in the lateral canal closing as the contained fluid is forced into the podium, which elongates. On contact with the substratum, the centre of the distal end of the podium is withdrawn, resulting in a partial vacuum and adhesion that is aided by the production of a copious adhesive secretion. Withdrawal results from contraction of the longitudinal muscles of the podia.

Hemichordata (hemichordate)
      Among the phylum Hemichordata are the enteropneusts (acornworms (acorn worm)), which are worm-shaped inhabitants of shallow seas and have a short, conical proboscis, which gives them their common name. The vascular system of the Enteropneusta is open, with two main contractile vessels and a system of sinus channels. The colourless blood passes forward in the dorsal vessel, which widens at the posterior of the proboscis into a space, the contractile wall of which pumps the blood into the glomerulus, an organ formed from an in-tucking of the hind wall of the proboscis cavity. From the glomerulus the blood is collected into two channels that lead backward to the ventral longitudinal vessel. This vessel supplies the body wall and gut with a network of sinuses that eventually drain back into the dorsal vessel.

      The phylum Chordata contains all animals that possess, at some time in their life cycles, a stiffening rod (the notochord), as well as other common features. The subphylum Vertebrata is a member of this phylum and will be discussed later (see below The vertebrate circulatory system). All other chordates are called protochordates (protochordate) and are classified into two groups: Tunicata and Cephalochordata.

      The blood-vascular system of the tunicates (tunicate), or sea squirts (sea squirt), is open, the heart consisting of no more than a muscular fold in the pericardium. There is no true heart wall or lining and the whole structure is curved or U-shaped, with one end directed dorsally and the other ventrally. Each end opens into large vessels that lack true walls and are merely sinus channels. The ventral vessel runs along the ventral side of the pharynx and branches to form a lattice around the slits in the pharyngeal wall through which the respiratory water currents pass. Blood circulating through this pharyngeal grid is provided with a large surface area for gaseous exchange. The respiratory water currents are set up by the action of cilia (cilium) lining the pharyngeal slits and, in some species, by regular muscular contractions of the body wall. Dorsally, the network of pharyngeal blood vessels drains into a longitudinal channel that runs into the abdomen and breaks up into smaller channels supplying the digestive loop of the intestine and the other visceral organs. The blood passes into a dorsal abdominal sinus that leads back to the dorsal side of the heart. The circulatory system of the sea squirt is marked by periodic reversals of blood flow caused by changes in the direction of peristaltic contraction of the heart.

      Sea squirt blood has a slightly higher osmotic pressure than seawater and contains a number of different types of amoebocytes, some of which are phagocytic and actively migrate between the blood and the tissues. The blood of some sea squirts also contains green cells, which have a unique vanadium-containing pigment of unknown function.

      Amphioxus (Branchiostoma lanceolatum) is a cephalochordate that possesses many typical vertebrate features but lacks the cranial cavity and vertebral column of the true vertebrate. Its circulatory pattern differs from that of most invertebrates as the blood passes forward in the ventral and backward in the dorsal vessels. A large sac, the sinus venosus, is situated below the posterior of the pharynx and collects blood from all parts of the body. The blood passes forward through the subpharyngeal ventral aorta, from which branches carry it to small, accessory, branchial hearts that pump it upward through the gill arches. The oxygenated blood is collected into two dorsal aortas that continue forward into the snout and backward to unite behind the pharynx. The single median vessel thus formed branches to vascular spaces and the intestinal capillaries. Blood from the gut collects in a median subintestinal vein and flows forward to the liver, where it passes through a second capillary bed before being collected in the hepatic vein and passing to the sinus venosus. Paired anterior and posterior cardinal veins collect blood from the muscles and body wall. These veins lead, through a pair of common cardinal veins (duct of Cuvier), to the sinus venosus.

      There is no single heart in the amphioxus, and blood is transported by contractions that arise independently in the sinus venosus, branchial hearts, subintestinal vein, and other vessels. The blood is nonpigmented and does not contain cells; oxygen transport is by simple solution in the blood.

Bernard Edward Matthews

The vertebrate circulatory system

The basic vertebrate pattern
The plan
      All vertebrates have circulatory systems (human cardiovascular system) based on a common plan, and so vertebrate systems show much less variety than do those of invertebrates. Although it is impossible to trace the evolution of the circulatory system by using fossils (because blood vessels do not fossilize as do bones and teeth), it is possible to theorize on its evolution by studying different groups of vertebrates and their developing embryos. Many of the variations from the common plan are related to the different requirements of living in water and on land.

The heart
      The vertebrate heart lies below the alimentary canal in the front and centre of the chest, housed in its own section of the body cavity. During the development of an embryo, the heart first appears below the pharynx, and although it may also be in this position in adult animals, the heart often moves posteriorly as the animal grows and matures.

      The heart is basically a tube made of special muscle (cardiac muscle) that is not found anywhere else in the body. This cardiac muscle beats throughout life with its own automatic rhythm. Deoxygenated blood from the body is brought by veins into the most posterior part of the heart tube, the sinus venosus. From there it passes forward into the atrium, the ventricle, and the conus arteriosus (called the bulbus cordis in embryos), and eventually to the arterial system. The blood is pushed through the heart because the various parts of the tube contract in sequence. As the heart develops from embryo to adult, each part of the tube becomes a chamber, separated from the others by valves, so that blood can neither flow backward in the system nor reenter the heart from the arteries. As the heart grows, it bends into an “S” shape, so that the sinus venosus and atrium lie above the ventricle and conus arteriosus.

The blood vessels (blood vessel)
      Gill slits are a fundamental feature of all vertebrate embryos, including humans. With few exceptions, there are six gill slits on each side. Blood leaving the heart travels from the conus arteriosus into the ventral aorta, which branches to send six pairs of arteries between the gill slits. The arterial branches join the dorsal aorta above the alimentary canal. Anterior to the gill slits, the ventral aorta branches again, forming two external carotid arteries that supply the ventral part of the head. Two internal carotids, which are the anterior extensions of the dorsal aorta, supply the brain in the dorsal part of the head.

      Deoxygenated blood collects in capillaries and then drains into larger and larger veins, which take it from various parts of the body to the heart. Of these, the anterior and posterior cardinal veins, each with left and right components, take blood to the heart from the front and rear of the body, respectively. They lie dorsal to the alimentary canal, while the heart lies ventral to it. There is a common cardinal vein on each side, often called the duct of Cuvier, which carries blood ventrally into the sinus venosus. Various other veins join the cardinal veins from all over the body. The ventral jugular veins (jugular vein) drain the lower part of the head and take blood directly into the common cardinal veins.

      Lower vertebrates have two so-called portal systems, areas of the venous system that begin in capillaries in tissues and join to form veins, which divide to produce another capillary network en route to the heart. They are called the hepatic (liver) and renal (kidneys) portal systems. The hepatic system is important because it collects blood from the intestine and passes it to the liver, the centre for many chemical reactions concerned with the absorption of food into the body and the control of substances entering the general circulation. The function of the renal portal system is less clear, but it involves two veins that pass from the caudal vein to the kidneys, where they break up into capillaries.

      The coronary circulation is that which supplies the heart muscle itself. It is of crucial importance, for the heart must never stop beating. Cardiac muscle needs oxygen from early in embryonic development until death. In mammals the coronary blood supply comes from the aorta, close to the heart. In evolutionary terms, this was not always so; many lower vertebrates, including agnathans and amphibians, have no specialized coronary arteries. The heart obtains its oxygen from blood passing through it. Fish have well-developed coronary vessels that arise from various sources, but ultimately from the efferent branchial system.

      The introduction of lungs changed the site of oxygenation of the blood. In lungfishes coronary arteries (coronary artery) arise from those anterior arterial arches receiving the most oxygenated blood from the heart. In reptiles (reptile) coronary arteries branch from the systemic arch, but their position of origin varies. In some species they arise close to the heart, as in birds and mammals. Coronary veins generally run beside corresponding arteries but diverge from them to enter the main venous supply to the right atrium, or to the sinus venosus in fishes.

Evolutionary trends
      Conventional classification divides vertebrates into two main groups—Gnathostomata, or vertebrates with jaws, and Agnatha (agnathan), or those without jaws (the lampreys (lamprey) and hagfishes (hagfish)). This is a fundamental division, for agnathans also lack paired fins and scales. Agnathans are regarded as the most primitive group of vertebrates, not least because they appear first in the fossil record, before jawed fishes. Their circulatory systems differ in various ways from those of jawed vertebrates.

Circulation in agnathans
      In the lamprey heart the atrium and ventricle are side by side, with the sinus venosus entering the atrium laterally. Nonmuscular valves prevent backflow of blood, and the conus arteriosus contains no cardiac muscle. There is no separate coronary blood supply, and the heart must obtain its oxygen from the blood as it goes through.

      The arterial system in agnathans is most obviously modified because there are more than six sets of gills. Eight branches emerge from the ventral aorta, which splits into two, unlike the single vessel in most vertebrates with gill slits. Oxygenated blood from the gills is then collected into eight efferent vessels, which join to form a dorsal aorta, single for most of its length. Internal carotid arteries arise from the dorsal aorta, but the ventral part of the head is supplied from anterior efferent branchial (gill) vessels, not from the anterior part of the ventral aorta.

      The venous system does not include a renal portal section, and there is asymmetry of the common cardinal veins, which take blood from the dorsal anterior and posterior cardinal veins down to the ventral heart. In embryos there are two of these, one on each side of the body; in lampreys, the left one disappears during development, while in hagfishes the right one disappears. Hagfishes also have accessory hearts in the venous system at several points. No other vertebrate has these structures.

      It is not clear why the circulatory system of agnathans differs in these ways from the basic vertebrate plan. It is important to remember, however, that lampreys and hagfishes are specialized descendants of what was once a more diverse and widespread group of animals. Their circulatory systems may be less similar to the basic vertebrate plan than those of their ancestors because of their present mode of life.

Circulation in jawed vertebrates
      Although clearly related to its mode of life, the blood system of a species also reflects its evolutionary history. The most significant change that occurred during early vertebrate evolution was the appearance of animals that could live and breathe on land. The first of these were the amphibians. Reptiles became even more independent of water because of their waterproof skins and shelled eggs, and from them evolved the most sophisticated land vertebrates, the mammals and birds. Obtaining oxygen entirely from air, instead of from water, involved drastic changes in the circulatory system.

      Land vertebrates use their lungs (lung) to exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen from the air. Lungs may have evolved from a structure in fishes called the swim bladder, a sac that grows out from the anterior part of the gut. Fishes use it for buoyancy control, but it is possible that it was originally useful as an accessory for respiration. The problem is that lungs are found at a different site in the circulatory system from that of the gills, where oxygenation occurs in fishes. Instead of circulating around the body, as it does in fishes, oxygenated blood from the lungs returns to the heart. Therefore, in evolutionary terms, if mixing of oxygenated and deoxygenated blood was to be avoided in the heart, alterations to its structure had to occur. Land vertebrates developed lungs, a new vein (the pulmonary vein) to take blood from them to the heart, and a double circulation, whereby the heart is effectively divided into two halves—one-half concerned with pumping incoming deoxygenated blood from the body to the lungs and the other with pumping oxygenated blood from the lungs around the body.

      There are also modifications in the arterial and venous systems related to the appearance of lungs in the circulation. In the venous system, the paired posterior cardinal veins are replaced by a single posterior vena cava, and the renal portal system disappears. The main modifications to the basic arterial pattern involve what are the gill arteries of fishes. The anterior of these became responsible for carrying oxygenated blood to the head and to the brain; the intermediate arteries for carrying blood to the dorsal aorta, and so around the body; and the posterior arteries for carrying deoxygenated blood to the lungs.

      In fishes (fish) the four chambers of the heart are all well developed. Blood passes in sequence through the sinus venosus, atrium, ventricle, and conus arteriosus. The ventricle is the main pumping chamber, as it is in the hearts of all land vertebrates. During the evolution of the heart, the ventricle and atrium came to predominate; the sinus venosus became part of the atrium, while the conus arteriosus was incorporated into the ventricle. The atrium itself became a double structure—the two auricles—as did the ventricle, but the conversion of the ventricle into two chambers occurred later in evolution than the division of the atrium.

Modifications among the vertebrate classes
      The hearts of fishes show little modification from the basic plan, except that lungfish hearts tend to become subdivided. In them, the oxygenated blood carried by the pulmonary vein does not enter the sinus venosus along with the deoxygenated blood from the body. Instead, the oxygenated blood remains separate and enters the left side of the atrium. The atrium is partially divided into two auricles, and the ventricle also has a partial septum. Lungfishes show further signs of circulatory developments in their venous system. As in land vertebrates, there is a median posterior vena cava, and the posterior cardinal veins are reduced.

      The arterial system of fishes is also altered from the basic plan. First there are the afferent (leading to) and efferent (leading from) parts of the gill (branchial) blood vessels. Each pair of blood vessels looping up between a pair of gills is called an arterial arch. During the development of embryos, the arterial arches become interrupted by capillaries in the gills. Thus, each arch consists of a ventral afferent section that brings blood to the gills from the heart and a dorsal efferent section that collects blood from the gill capillaries and carries it to the dorsal aorta. The whole circulatory system is a one-way arrangement, with the heart pumping only deoxygenated blood from the body forward to the gills to be oxygenated and redistributed to the body.

      Although six gill slits appear in embryos, few adult fishes retain all six. The first and most anterior gill slit in the series becomes the spiracle, and the first branchial arch is much modified; parts of it disappear altogether. The second branchial arch is variable in its presence in different fishes. In general, therefore, adult fishes often have only four of the six original arterial arches found in embryos. The external carotid arteries also show modifications. Instead of arising from the anterior part of the ventral aorta, they become connected with the efferent portion of the second branchial arch. This change ensures that, despite modifications to the most anterior of the arterial arches, blood just oxygenated in the gills will reach the head.

      It may be that the prevalence of poorly oxygenated water in certain habitats explains the evolution of lungs and, hence, of land vertebrates. Fishes also have evolved accessory structures for obtaining oxygen from the air. These are often modified gill chambers, with dense capillary networks. Even the intestine may be involved, as in the loach Haplosternum.

      Except for sharks and their relatives (elasmobranchs), most fishes have a swim bladder, the structure from which lungs may have evolved. Although its prime function in fishes is to control buoyancy, the swim bladder may also act as an oxygen reserve, for the gas in it often contains a high concentration of oxygen derived from the blood's own supply. Blood to the swim bladder usually comes from the dorsal aorta. One African fish, Polypterus (bichir), uses its swim bladder for respiration, and the veins from it join the posterior cardinal veins close to the heart. These swim bladder veins are almost where pulmonary veins would be expected to be, if they were bringing oxygenated blood from lungs straight to the heart.

      The lungfishes have gone further in adapting their circulatory systems to the presence of lungs, although the different species do not breathe air to the same extent. Some of their modifications foreshadow the changes that have taken place in amphibians. The divided atrium of the lungfish heart receives blood from the body on the right side and from the lungs on the left. The conus is large and is divided by a complex system of valves arranged in a spiral pattern and called the spiral valve. The ventral aorta is also subdivided internally. The result is that oxygenated blood from the left side of the ventricle is directed into the ventral division of the ventral aorta and passes to the anterior of the arterial arches, while deoxygenated blood from the right side of the ventricle is directed into the two most posterior arterial arches and passes mainly to the lungs.

      Four arterial arches are present even in the lungfish species most dependent on breathing air (Lepidosiren), where gills still exist. These are arches three to six of the original series of six present in fish embryos. Their arrangement is largely unaffected by the presence of lungs, except that the gills may be reduced and the arteries may pass straight through without intervening capillaries. Arches five and six, however, join together before entering the dorsal aorta and give rise to a large pulmonary artery to the lungs. Thus, in lungfishes, lungs and gills can be seen working side by side.

      The circulatory systems of lungfishes are strikingly similar to those of amphibians, and although lungfishes do not seem to have been amphibian ancestors, they are related to fishes that were. It is likely that several groups of ancient fishes had lungs, partially divided hearts, and ventral aortas, and from one of these groups arose the land vertebrates.

Amphibians (amphibian)
      Modern amphibians are characterized by the flexibility of their gaseous exchange mechanisms. Amphibian skin is moistened by mucous secretions and is well supplied with blood vessels. It is used for respiration to varying degrees. When lungs are present, carbon dioxide may pass out of the body across the skin, but in some salamanders there are no lungs and all respiratory exchanges occur via the skin. Even in such animals as frogs (frog), it seems that oxygen can be taken up at times by the skin, under water for example. Therefore, regulation of respiration occurs within a single species, and the relative contribution of skin and lungs varies during the life of the animal.

      The amphibian heart is generally of a tripartite structure, with a divided atrium but a single ventricle. The lungless salamanders, however, have no atrial septum, and one small and unfamiliar group, the caecilians, has signs of a septum in the ventricle. It is not known whether the original amphibians had septa in both atrium and ventricle. They may have, and the absence of septa in many modern forms may simply be a sign of a flexible approach to the use of skin or lung, or both, as the site of oxygen exchange. In addition, the ventricle is subdivided by muscular columns into many compartments that tend to prevent the free mixing of blood.

      The conus arteriosus is muscular and contains a spiral valve. Again, as in lungfishes, this has an important role in directing blood into the correct arterial arches. In the frog, Rana, venous blood is driven into the right atrium of the heart by contraction of the sinus venosus, and it flows into the left atrium from the lungs. A wave of contraction then spreads over the whole atrium and drives blood into the ventricle, where blood from the two sources tends to remain separate. Separation is maintained in the spiral valve, and the result is similar to the situation in lungfishes. Blood from the body, entering the right atrium, tends to pass to the lungs and skin for oxygenation; that from the lungs, entering the left atrium, tends to go to the head. Some mixing does occur, and this blood tends to be directed by the spiral valve into the arterial arch leading to the body.

      Blood returning from the skin does not enter the circulation at the same point as blood from the lungs. Thus, oxygenated blood arrives at the heart from two different directions—from the sinus venosus, to which the cutaneous (skin) vein connects, and from the pulmonary vein. Both right and left atria receive oxygenated blood, which must be directed primarily to the carotid arteries supplying the head and brain. It is likely that variable shunting of blood in the ventricle is important in ensuring this. A ventricular septum would inhibit shunting; it is at least possible that its absence in amphibians is not a primitive feature but a secondary adaptation to variable gas-exchange mechanisms.

      The amphibian venous system shows various features that are characteristic of land vertebrates. The posterior cardinal veins are replaced by a posterior vena cava, but they are still visible in salamanders. There is a renal portal system, and an alternative route back to the heart from the legs is provided by an anterior abdominal vein that enters the hepatic portal vein to the liver.

      Amphibian larvae and the adults of some species have gills. There are four arterial arches in salamanders (urodeles) and three in frogs (anurans). These are three through six of the original series, the fifth disappearing in adult frogs. There is no ventral aorta, and the arterial arches arise directly from the conus—an important feature, given that the conus and its spiral valve control the composition of blood reaching each arterial arch. The names given to the three arterial arches of frogs are those used in all land vertebrates, including mammals. They are the carotid (the third), systemic (the fourth), and pulmonary (the sixth) arches. Blood to the lungs (and skin in frogs) is always carried by the sixth arterial arch, which loses its connection to the dorsal aorta. All land vertebrates supply their lungs with deoxygenated blood from this source.

Reptiles (reptile)
      Unlike lungfishes and amphibians, reptiles depend entirely on their lungs for respiration. Gills (gill) and skin do not provide additional sources of oxygen. Only the crocodiles, however, truly approach birds and mammals in their almost complete “double” circulation. Because of the development of a neck and relative elongation of that region of the body, the heart may be displaced posteriorly and the arrangement of arteries and veins may be altered accordingly. In general, however, the circulatory system resembles that in frogs.

      Various changes can be seen in the reptilian heart. The left atrium is smaller than the right and always completely separate from it. The sinus venosus is present but small. The ventricle is variously subdivided in different groups. Three arterial trunks arise directly from the ventricle, the conus having been partly incorporated into it. The three trunks are the right and left systemic arches and the pulmonary arch. The carotid arch is a branch of the right systemic arch. When the ventricle is actually beating, there is functional separation of blood from the two atria so that most oxygenated blood flows to the carotid arteries and hardly mixes with deoxygenated blood going to the lungs.

      Crocodiles (crocodile) are the only living representatives of the archosaurian reptiles, the group that included the dinosaurs and from which birds evolved. Crocodiles have a complete ventricular septum, producing two equally sized chambers. The blood from the right and left atria is not mixed; despite this, there is an opening at the base of the right and left systemic arches, and blood can be shunted between the two. This is important during diving, when blood flow to the lungs is decreased. The crocodile heart is situated so posteriorly that the subclavian artery, which would normally arise from the dorsal aorta at the level of the systemic arch, arises from the carotid artery.

      Bird circulatory systems have many similarities to those of reptiles, from which they evolved. The changes that have occurred are more of degree than of kind. The heart is completely divided into right and left sides. The sinus venosus is incorporated into the right auricle and becomes the sinoauricular node. It is from this point that the heartbeat is initiated. There is no conus, and only two vessels leave the divided ventricle. These are the pulmonary artery from the right side and the systemic arch from the left. The systemic arch is asymmetrical—the main difference in this area between birds and lizards. Only the right part of the systemic arch is present, the left being suppressed. The arterial arches are no longer bilaterally symmetrical. Another difference between birds and lizards is found in the venous circulation: the renal portal system is reduced in birds.

Mammals (mammal)
      Mammals also evolved from reptiles, but not from the same group as did birds, and must have developed their double circulation independently from early reptiles. Nevertheless, several parallel changes occurred, such as the common incorporation of the sinus venosus into the right auricle. The most striking manifestation of different origins is seen in the mammalian aorta, which leaves the left ventricle and curves to the left. The aorta corresponds to the left half of the systemic arch, while the right is missing. The carotid arteries arise from the left systemic arch (aorta), though their precise position varies among mammals. The arterial system is asymmetric, as in birds, but in the opposite way.

      The heart of both mammals and birds is a double pump, powering two systems of vessels with different characteristics. The left ventricle has a thicker layer of muscle around it, a necessary adaptation for powering its beat against the high resistance of the extensive systemic circulation throughout the body. The right ventricle has a thinner wall, consistent with its role in pumping blood to the lungs against a much lower resistance.

Embryonic development of the circulatory system
      An embryo develops only with an adequate supply of oxygen and metabolites. In its early stages these may be provided by diffusion. Because the rate of diffusion becomes limiting beyond a certain size, however, the circulatory system becomes functional early in development, often before other organs and systems are obvious.

      The heart develops from the middle embryonic tissue layer, the mesoderm, just below the anterior part of the gut. It begins as a tube that joins with blood vessels also forming in the mesoderm. Other mesodermal cells form a coat around the heart tube and become the muscular wall, or myocardium. The heart lies in its own section of body cavity, called the pericardial coelom, formed by partitions that cut it off from the main body cavity. From an original tube shape, the heart bends back on itself as it grows within the pericardial cavity. The sinus venosus and atrium lie above the ventricle and bulbus cordis (embryonic equivalent of the conus arteriosus). Septa gradually partition the heart into chambers.

      In mammalian and bird embryos, the lungs are not used until birth. Oxygen is obtained in the former from the placenta and in the latter from embryonic membranes close to the porous eggshell.

      The circulation has various modifications for diverting oxygenated blood from sources outside the embryo to the body of the embryo. In mammals blood from the placenta travels to the right auricle via the umbilical vein and posterior vena cava. It passes through an opening, the foramen ovale, into the left auricle, and then to the left ventricle and around the body. Deoxygenated blood entering the anterior vena cava fills the right ventricle; however, instead of passing to the lungs, it is shunted through the ductus arteriosus, between the pulmonary and systemic arches, and into the dorsal aorta. From the dorsal aorta the deoxygenated blood travels to the placenta, bypassing the lungs completely. At birth the foramen ovale closes, as does the ductus arteriosus, and the lungs become functional.

      The development of the circulatory system in higher vertebrate embryos (i.e., those of birds and mammals) generally follows a sequence of seven main events. Initially, a tubular heart bends into an “S” shape. Blood then flows from behind forward through the sinus venosus, atrium, ventricle, and bulbus cordis. There is then subdivision of the atrium and ventricle and of the opening between them. The sinus venosus is incorporated into the right atrium. The pulmonary veins are segregated to open into the left atrium. The bulbus cordis is subdivided into a pulmonary trunk from the right ventricle and a systemic trunk from the left ventricle. Finally, an embryonic set of six arterial arches is reduced to three in adults, and their relationships are further complicated by asymmetrical loss of some parts and development of others.

Biodynamics of vertebrate circulation
blood pressure and blood flow
      The pressure that develops within the closed vertebrate circulatory system is highest at the pump—the heart—and decreases with distance away from the pump because of friction within the blood vessels. Because the blood vessels can change their diameter, blood pressure can be affected by both the action of the heart and changes in the size of the peripheral blood vessels. Blood is a living fluid—it is viscous and contains cells (45 percent of its volume in human beings)—and yet the effects of the cells on its flow patterns are small.

      Blood enters the atrium by positive pressure from the venous system or by negative pressure drawing it in by suction. Both mechanisms operate in vertebrates. Muscular movements of the limbs and body, and gravity in land vertebrates, are forces propelling blood to the heart. In fishes and amphibians the atrium forces blood into the ventricle when it contracts. In birds and mammals the blood arrives at the heart with considerable residual pressure and passes through the auricles into the ventricles, apparently without much additional impetus from contraction of the auricles.

      The ventricle is the main pumping chamber, but one of the features of double circulation is that the two circuits require different pressure levels. Although the shorter pulmonary circulation requires less pressure than the much longer systemic circuit, the two are connected to each other and must transport the same volume of fluid per unit time. The right and left ventricles in birds and mammals function as a volume and a pressure pump, respectively. The thick muscular wall of the left ventricle ensures that it develops a higher pressure during contraction in order to force blood through the body. It follows that pressures in the aorta and pulmonary artery may be very different. In human beings aortic pressure is about six times higher.

      Valves (valve) throughout the system are crucial to maintain pressure. They prevent backflow at all levels; for example, they prevent flow from the arteries back into the heart as ventricular pressure drops at the end of a contraction cycle. Valves are important in veins (vein), where the pressure is lower than in arteries.

      Another impetus to blood flow is contraction of the muscles in the walls of vessels. This also prevents backflow of arterial blood toward the heart at the end of each contraction cycle. Input from nerves, sensory receptors in the vessels themselves, and hormones all influence blood vessel diameter, but responses differ according to position in the body and animal species.

      Normally, the pressures that develop in a circulatory system vary widely in different animals. Body size can be an important factor. The closed circulation systems of vertebrates generally operate at higher pressures than the open blood systems of invertebrates; the systems of birds and mammals operate at the highest pressures of all.

Electrical activity
      The vertebrate heart is myogenic (rhythmic contractions are an intrinsic property of the cardiac muscle cells themselves). pulse rate varies widely in different vertebrates, but it is generally higher in small animals, at least in birds and mammals. Each chamber of the heart has its own contraction rate. In the frog, for example, the sinus venosus contracts fastest and is the pacemaker for the other chambers, which contract in sequence and at a decreasing rate, the conus being the slowest. In birds and mammals, where the sinus venosus is incorporated into the right atrium at the sinoauricular node, the latter is still the pacemaker and the heartbeat is initiated at that point. Thus, the evolutionary history of the heart explains the asymmetrical pattern of the heartbeat.

      In the frog each contraction of the heart begins with a localized negative charge (electric charge) that spreads over the surface of the sinus venosus. In lower vertebrates, the cardiac muscle cells themselves conduct the wave of excitation. In birds and mammals, however, special conducting fibres (arising from modified muscle cells) transmit the wave of excitation from the sinoauricular node to the septum between the auricles, and then, after a slight delay, down between and around the ventricles. The electrical activity of the heart can be recorded; the resulting pattern is called an electrocardiogram.

Control of heartbeat and circulation
      Many factors, such as temperature, oxygen supply, or nervous excitement, affect heartbeat and circulation. Blood circulation is controlled mainly via nerve connections, sensory receptors, and hormones. These act primarily by varying the heart's pulse rate, amplitude, or stroke volume and by altering the degree of dilation or constriction of the peripheral blood vessels (i.e., those blood vessels near the surface of the body (body heat)).

      Temperature has a direct effect on heart rate, and one of the ways in which mammals regulate their internal temperature is by controlling peripheral blood circulation. Mammals are endothermic (warm-blooded) vertebrates; their internal temperature is kept within narrow limits by using heat generated by the body's own metabolic processes. Lizards are ectothermic (cold-blooded); they obtain heat from the external environment by, for example, basking in the sun. The effects of oxygen concentration on the heart and blood vessels is rapid. Oxygen deficiency in the cardiac tissue causes dilation of the coronary capillaries, thereby increasing blood flow and oxygen supply.

      Most effects on the circulation are indirect and complex. All vertebrate hearts receive input from nerves (nervous system); for example, stimulation of a branch of the vagus nerve causes the release of acetylcholine at the nerve endings, which depresses the heart rate. Other nerve endings release norepinephrine, which increases the heart rate. Less directly, nervous stimulation brought about by stress causes the release of the hormones epinephrine (epinephrine and norepinephrine) and norepinephrine into the bloodstream. These substances not only make the heart beat faster and with a greater amplitude, but they also divert blood to the muscles by constricting the vessels in the skin and gut. This prepares the animal physiologically for physical exertion. Numerous other chemicals, such as nicotine, affect heart rate directly or indirectly.

      Two other factors are important in the context of circulatory regulation—the concentrations of inorganic ions and sensory receptors in blood vessel walls. Sodium, potassium, and calcium ions are always involved in changes of electrical potential across cell membranes. A change in their concentrations, therefore, influences heartbeat profoundly. External calcium concentration can, for example, determine the conductance of sodium across the cardiac cell membranes. Sensory receptors in the walls of blood vessels register blood pressure. They are found in the aorta, carotid arteries, pulmonary artery, capillaries in the adrenal gland, and the tissues of the heart itself. Impulses from the receptors travel to the medulla of the brain, from where messages are sent via motor nerves to the heart and blood vessels. Regulation is thus achieved according to the body's needs.

M. Elizabeth Rogers

Additional Reading
General accounts and elementary descriptions of circulatory systems are found in many biology textbooks, including the following: Raymond F. Oram, Biology: Living Systems, 5th ed. (1986); Karen Arms and Pamela S. Camp, Biology, 3rd ed. (1986); and Paul B. Weisz and Richard N. Keogh, The Science of Biology, 5th ed. (1982). Textbooks dealing with animal structure at a more advanced level include the following: Ralph M. Buchsbaum, Animals Without Backbones, 3rd ed. (1987); Robert D. Barnes, Invertebrate Zoology, 5th ed. (1987); Alfred Sherwood Romer and Thomas S. Parsons, The Vertebrate Body, 6th ed. (1986); and Charles K. Weichert, Anatomy of the Chordates, 4th ed. (1970); Knut Schmidt-Nielsen, Animal Physiology: Adaptation and Environment, 3rd ed. (1983); and Milton Hildebrand, Analysis of Vertebrate Structure, 2nd ed. (1982).For the history of circulation studies, see Helen Rapson, The Circulation of Blood (1982); David J. Furley and J.S. Wilkie (eds.), Galen on Respiration and the Arteries (1984); The Selected Writings of William Gilbert, Galileo Galilei, William Harvey (1952), in “The Great Books of the Western World” series; Fredrick A. Willius and Thomas J. Dry, A History of the Heart and the Circulation (1948); and Alfred P. Fishman and Dickinson W. Richards, Circulation of the Blood: Men and Ideas (1964, reprinted 1982). Special studies of circulation include Donald A. McDonald, Blood Flow in Arteries, 2nd ed. (1974); David I. Abramson and Philip B. Dobrin (eds.), Blood Vessels and Lymphatics in Organ Systems (1984); Colin L. Schwartz, Nicholas T. Werthessen, and Stewart Wolf, Structure and Function of the Circulation, 3 vol. (1980–81); and Jerry Franklin Green, Fundamental Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Physiology, 2nd ed. (1987).Michael Francis Oliver

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Universalium. 2010.


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