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Effect of induced erythrocythemia on aerobic work capacity.


The aerobic work capacity of 11 highly trained runners was studied employing a double-blind design 1) before phlebotomy (C1), 2) following restoration of normocythemia (C2), 3) after a sham reinfusion of 50 ml of saline (sham), 4) following autologous reinfusion of approximately 900 ml of freeze-preserved blood (reinfusion), and 5) upon reestablishment of control hematologic levels after erythrocythemia (C3). There were no hematologic differences among C1, C2, sham, and C3, but following reinfusion, hemoglobin was significantly elevated (15.7-16.7 g . 100 ml-1). Maximum O2 consumption (VO2max) and running time to exhaustion were significantly increased 24 h postreinfusion (5.11-5.37 l . min-1 and 7.20-9.65 min, respectively) and 7 days postreinfusion. When sham preceded reinfusion, VO2 max and time to exhaustion were the same as control. However, 16 wk postreinfusion, despite the return to normal hematologic values, VO2max remained significantly above control levels at sham and C3. These findings indicate that there is a distinct increase in VO2max following induced erythrocythemia and suggest that oxygen transport limits maximal aerobic capacity.

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