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Thermal acclimation causes the heart of some fish species to undergo significant remodelling. This includes changes in electrical activity, energy utilization and structural properties at the gross and molecular level of organization. The purpose of this Review is to summarize the current state of knowledge of temperature-induced structural remodelling in the fish ventricle across different levels of biological organization, and to examine how such changes result in the modification of the functional properties of the heart. The structural remodelling response is thought to be responsible for changes in cardiac stiffness, the Ca2+ sensitivity of force generation and the rate of force generation by the heart. Such changes to both active and passive properties help to compensate for the loss of cardiac function caused by a decrease in physiological temperature. Hence, temperature-induced cardiac remodelling is common in fish that remain active following seasonal decreases in temperature. This Review is organized around the ventricular phases of the cardiac cycle - specifically diastolic filling, isovolumic pressure generation and ejection - so that the consequences of remodelling can be fully described. We also compare the thermal acclimation-associated modifications of the fish ventricle with those seen in the mammalian ventricle in response to cardiac pathologies and exercise. Finally, we consider how the plasticity of the fish heart may be relevant to survival in a climate change context, where seasonal temperature changes could become more extreme and variable.

Original publication




Journal article


The Journal of experimental biology

Publication Date





147 - 160


Division of Cardiovascular Science, School of Medicine, Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health, University of Manchester, Manchester, M13 9NT, UK.


Heart, Animals, Fishes, Temperature, Acclimatization, Ventricular Remodeling, Climate Change