Optimal hematocrit theory during activity in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana)

Philip C. Withers, Stanley S. Hillman, Michael S. Hedrick, Peter B. Kimmel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


1. 1. There is an exponential relationship between blood viscosity (cP) and hematocrit (%) for the bullfrog; η = 1.81 e0.033Hct. The in vitro optimal hematocrit calculated for blood flow through tubes, from this relationship for bullfrog blood, is 30%. 2. 2. Amphibian blood is a non-Newtonian fluid with viscosity dependent on shear rate. It has a finite yield shear stress of about 1.5 dynes cm-2. 3. 3. Hematocrit of bullfrogs was increased from 27% (control) to 57% by isovolemic erythrocythemia (constant volume blood-doping). There was a slight increase in systolic, diastolic and venous blood pressure with elevated hematocrit. 4. 4. Systemic arch blood flow rate was inversely related to blood viscosity for erythrocythemic bullfrogs. The decrease in systemic arch blood flow at high hematocrits was due primarily to reduced pulse volume rather than reduced heart rate. 5. 5. Systemic arch blood flow, when standardised between individuals, was inversely related to blood viscosity; Qbl = 0.185 + 3.73 η-1. This relationship was significantly different from that predicted by the Poiseuille-Hagen flow formula. The in vivo optimal hematocrit calculated from this relationship was 41%. 6. 6. Optimal hematocrit theory appears to be generally applicable for Rana calesbeiana in vitro and in vivo. Most individuals had an in vivo optimal hematocrit, but the absence of a clear optimal hematocrit for some individuals could reflect methodological variability, or in vivo physiological compensation for the increased blood viscosity at high hematocrit.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-60
Number of pages6
JournalComparative Biochemistry and Physiology -- Part A: Physiology
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1991
Externally publishedYes


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