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Am J Physiol. 1999 Feb;276(2):H438-45. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.1999.276.2.H438.

Arterial O2 content and tension in regulation of cardiac output and leg blood flow during exercise in humans.

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The Copenhagen Muscle Research Centre, Rigshospitalet, DK-2200 Copenhagen, Denmark.


A universal O2 sensor presumes that compensation for impaired O2 delivery is triggered by low O2 tension, but in humans, comparisons of compensatory responses to altered arterial O2 content (CaO2) or tension (PaO2) have not been reported. To directly compare cardiac output (QTOT) and leg blood flow (LBF) responses to a range of CaO2 and PaO2, seven healthy young men were studied during two-legged knee extension exercise with control hemoglobin concentration ([Hb] = 144.4 +/- 4 g/l) and at least 1 wk later after isovolemic hemodilution ([Hb] = 115 +/- 2 g/l). On each study day, subjects exercised twice at 30 W and on to voluntary exhaustion with an FIO2 of 0.21 or 0.11. The interventions resulted in two conditions with matched CaO2 but markedly different PaO2 (hypoxia and anemia) and two conditions with matched PaO2 and different CaO2 (hypoxia and anemia + hypoxia). PaO2 varied from 46 +/- 3 Torr in hypoxia to 95 +/- 3 Torr (range 37 to >100) in anemia (P < 0.001), yet LBF at exercise was nearly identical. However, as CaO2 dropped from 190 +/- 5 ml/l in control to 132 +/- 2 ml/l in anemia + hypoxia (P < 0.001), QTOT and LBF at 30 W rose to 12.8 +/- 0.8 and 7.2 +/- 0.3 l/min, respectively, values 23 and 47% above control (P < 0.01). Thus regulation of QTOT, LBF, and arterial O2 delivery to contracting intact human skeletal muscle is dependent for signaling primarily on CaO2, not PaO2. This finding suggests that factors related to CaO2 or [Hb] may play an important role in the regulation of blood flow during exercise in humans.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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