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Fed Proc. 1986 Dec;45(13):2948-52.

Balancing conflicting metabolic demands of exercise and diving.


During enforced diving, aquatic animals activate a set of physiological reflexes (apnea, bradycardia, peripheral vasoconstriction), which are termed the diving response and are in effect the first line of defense against hypoxia. At least in the Weddell seal, this strategy is now known also to be used in voluntary diving at sea, but the response is necessarily modified to accommodate potentially conflicting demands of diving and swimming exercise. The main modification appears to involve skeletal muscles used in swimming, which, because of their high energy requirements, must be powered by aerobic metabolism. Thus they must remain perfused at rates porportional to swimming velocity (which is why heart rates are adjusted to swimming velocity). The required regulation of O2 delivery is achieved at least in part by a well-paced release of oxygenated red blood cells, stored at the beginning of the dive apparently in the spleen. The main metabolic difference between laboratory and voluntary diving is that, in the latter, working muscles serve as a sink for lactate and thus the entry rates of lactate into the plasma can be balanced by exit rates from the plasma; the maintenance of this balance means that no excess lactate remains for a lactate washout in postdiving exercise except under long, exploratory diving. Even in the latter long dives, however, the amount of lactate formed is far less than would be expected if the energetic shortfall caused by hypoperfusion and O2 lack were made up by anaerobic glycolysis (Pasteur effect). Consequently, during diving, hypoperfused tissues necessarily sustain a metabolic arrest of variable degrees as a mechanism of defense against hypoxia.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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