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J Appl Physiol (1985). 1996 Jul;81(1):252-9.

Effects of erythrocyte infusion on VO2max at high altitude.

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  • 1United States Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, Natick, Massachusetts 01760-5007, USA.


This study investigated whether autologous erythrocyte infusion would ameliorate the decrement in maximal O2 uptake (VO2max) experienced by lowlanders when they ascend to high altitude. VO2max was measured in 16 men (treadmill running) at sea level (SL) and on the 1st (HA1) and 9th (HA9) days of high-altitude (4,300 m) residence. After VO2max was measured at SL, subjects were divided into two matched groups (n = 8). Twenty-four hours before ascent to high altitude, the experimental group received a 700-ml infusion of autologous erythrocytes and saline (42% hematocrit), whereas the control group received only saline. The VO2max of erythrocyte-infused [54 +/- 1 (SE)] and control subjects (52 +/- 2 did not differ at SL before infusion. The decrement in VO2max on HA1 did not differ between groups, averaging 26% overall, despite higher (P < 0.01) arterial hematocrit, hemoglobin concentration, and arterial O2 content in the erythrocyte-infused subjects. By HA9, there were no longer any differences in hematocrit, hemoglobin concentration, or arterial O2 content between groups. No change in VO2max occurred between HA1 and HA9 for either group. Thus, despite increasing arterial O2-carrying capacity, autologous erythrocyte infusion did not ameliorate the decrement in VO2max at 4,300-m altitude.

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