DOI: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00100.2023 ISSN:

AltitudeOmics: Effects of 16 days acclimatisation to hypobaric hypoxia on muscle oxygen extraction during incremental exercise

Nicolas Bourdillon, Andrew W. Subudhi, Jui-Lin Fan, Oghenero Evero, Jonathan E. Elliott, Andrew T. Lovering, Robert C. Roach, Bengt Kayser
  • Physiology (medical)
  • Physiology

Introduction: Acute altitude exposure lowers arterial oxygen content (CaO2) and cardiac output ( c) at peak exercise, whilst O2 extraction from blood to working muscles remains similar. Acclimatization normalizes CaO2 but not peak c nor peak oxygen consumption ( O2p). To what extent acclimatization impacts muscle O2 extraction remains unresolved. Methods: Twenty-one sea-level residents performed an incremental cycling exercise to exhaustion near sea level (SL), in acute (ALT1) and chronic (ALT16) hypoxia (5,260 m). Arterial blood gases, gas exchange at the mouth and oxy- (O2Hb) and deoxyhaemoglobin (HHb) of the vastus lateralis were recorded to assess arterial O2 content (CaO2), c, and O2. The HHb- O2 slope was taken as a surrogate for muscle O2 extraction. Results: During moderate-intensity exercise, HHb- O2 slope increased to a comparable extent at ALT1 (2.13 ± 0.94) and ALT16 (2.03 ± 0.88) compared to SL (1.27 ± 0.12), indicating increased O2 extraction. However, the HHb/CaO2 ratio increased from SL to ALT1 and then tended to go back to SL values at ALT16. During high-intensity exercise, HHb- O2 slope reached a break point beyond which it decreased at SL and ALT1, but not at ALT16. Discussion/Conclusion: Increased muscle O2 extraction during submaximal exercise was associated with decreased CaO2 in acute hypoxia. The significantly greater muscle O2 extraction during maximal exercise in chronic hypoxia is suggestive of an O2 reserve.

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