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J Physiol. 2013 Apr 1;591(7):1859-70. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2012.244905. Epub 2012 Dec 10.

Cerebral perfusion, oxygenation and metabolism during exercise in young and elderly individuals.

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School of Sport and Exercise Sciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, UK.


We evaluated cerebral perfusion, oxygenation and metabolism in 11 young (22 ± 1 years) and nine older (66 ± 2 years) individuals at rest and during cycling exercise at low (25% W(max)), moderate (50% Wmax), high (75% W(max)) and exhaustive (100% W(max)) workloads. Mean middle cerebral artery blood velocity (MCA V(mean)), mean arterial pressure (MAP), cardiac output (CO) and partial pressure of arterial carbon dioxide (P(aCO2)) were measured. Blood samples were obtained from the right internal jugular vein and brachial artery to determine concentration differences for oxygen (O2), glucose and lactate across the brain. The molar ratio between cerebral uptake of O2 versus carbohydrate (O2-carbohydrate index; O2/[glucose + 1/2 lactate]; OCI), the cerebral metabolic rate of O2 (CMRO2) and changes in mitochondrial O2 tension ( P(mitoO2)) were calculated. 100% W(max) was ~33% lower in the older group. Exercise increased MAP and CO in both groups (P < 0.05 vs. rest), but at each intensity MAP was higher and CO lower in the older group (P < 0.05). MCA V(mean), P(aCO2) and cerebral vascular conductance index (MCA V(mean)/MAP) were lower in the older group at each exercise intensity (P < 0.05). In contrast, young and older individuals exhibited similar increases in CMRO2 (by ~30 μmol (100 g(-1)) min(-1)), and decreases in OCI (by ~1.5) and (by ~10 mmHg) during exercise at 75% W(max). Thus, despite the older group having reduced cerebral perfusion and maximal exercise capacity, cerebral oxygenation and uptake of lactate and glucose are similar during exercise in young and older individuals.

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