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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40485. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040485. Epub 2012 Jul 6.

Effect of hyperoxia and hypercapnia on tissue oxygen and perfusion response in the normal liver and kidney.

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Physiology & Experimental Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Inhalation of air with altered levels of oxygen and carbon dioxide to manipulate tissue oxygenation and perfusion has both therapeutic and diagnostic value. These physiological responses can be measured non-invasively with magnetic resonance (MR) relaxation times. However, interpreting MR measurements is not straight-forward in extra-cranial organs where gas challenge studies have only begun to emerge. Inconsistent results have been reported on MR, likely because different organs respond differently. The objective of this study was to elucidate organ-specific physiological responses to gas challenge underlying MR measurements by investigating oxygenation and perfusion changes in the normal liver and kidney cortex.


Gas challenges (100% O(2), 10% CO(2), and carbogen [90% O(2)+10% CO(2)]) interleaved with room air was delivered to rabbits to investigate their effect on tissue oxygenation and perfusion. Real-time fiber-optic measurements of absolute oxygen and relative blood flow were made in the liver and kidney cortex.


Only the liver demonstrated a vasodilatory response to CO(2). Perfusion changes to other gases were minimal in both organs. Tissue oxygenation measurements showed the liver responding only when CO(2) was present and the kidney only when O(2) was present.


This study reveals distinct physiological response mechanisms to gas challenge in the liver and kidney. The detailed characterization of organ-specific responses is critical to improving our understanding and interpretation of MR measurements in various body organs, and will help broaden the application of MR for non-invasive studies of gas challenges.

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