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Eur J Appl Physiol. 2013 May;113(5):1181-8. doi: 10.1007/s00421-012-2532-4. Epub 2012 Nov 6.

Low total haemoglobin mass, blood volume and aerobic capacity in men with type 1 diabetes.

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Department of Sports and Exercise Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, University of Helsinki, Paasikivenkatu 4, 00250 Helsinki, Finland.


Blood O₂ carrying capacity affects aerobic capacity (VO₂max). Patients with type 1 diabetes have a risk for anaemia along with renal impairment, and they often have low VO₂max. We investigated whether total haemoglobin mass (tHb-mass) and blood volume (BV) differ in men with type 1 diabetes (T1D, n = 12) presently without complications and in healthy men (CON, n = 23) (age-, anthropometry-, physical activity-matched), to seek an explanation for low VO₂max. We determined tHb-mass, BV, haemoglobin concentration ([Hb]), and VO₂max in T1D and CON. With similar (mean ± SD) [Hb] (144 vs. 145 g l(-1)), T1D had lower tHb-mass (10.1 ± 1.4 vs. 11.0 ± 1.1 g kg(-1), P < 0.05), BV (76.8 ± 9.5 vs. 83.5 ± 8.3 ml kg(-1), P < 0.05) and VO₂max (35.4 ± 4.8 vs. 44.9 ± 7.5 ml kg(-1) min(-1), P < 0.001) than CON. VO₂max correlated with tHb-mass and BV both in T1D (r = 0.71, P < 0.01 and 0.67, P < 0.05, respectively) and CON (r = 0.54, P < 0.01 and 0.66, P < 0.001, respectively), but not with [Hb]. Linear regression slopes were shallower in T1D than CON both between VO₂max and tHb-mass (2.4 and 3.6 ml kg(-1) min(-1) vs. g kg(-1), respectively) and VO₂max and BV (0.3 and 0.6 ml kg(-1) min(-1) vs. g kg(-1), respectively), indicating that T1D were unable to reach similar VO₂max than CON at a given tHb-mass and BV. In conclusion, low tHb-mass and BV partly explained low VO₂max in T1D and may provide early and more sensitive markers of blood O₂ carrying capacity than [Hb] alone.

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