Intermittent hypoxic training protects canine myocardium from infarction

Pu Zong, Srinath Setty, Wei Sun, Rodolfo Martinez, Johnathan D. Tune, Igor V. Ehrenburg, Elena N. Tkatchouk, Robert T. Mallet, H. Fred Downey

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57 Scopus citations


This investigation examined cardiac protective effects of normobaric intermittent hypoxia training. Six dogs underwent intermittent hypoxic training for 20 consecutive days in a normobaric chamber ventilated intermittently with N2 to reduce fraction of inspired oxygen (FIO2) to 9.5%-10%. Hypoxic periods, initially 5 mins and increasing to 10 mins, were followed by 4-min normoxic periods. This hypoxia-normoxia protocol was repeated, initially 5 times and increasing to 8 times. The dogs showed no discomfort during intermittent hypoxic training. After 20 days of hypoxic training, the resistance of ventricular myocardium to infarction was assessed in an acute experiment. The left anterior descending (LAD) coronary artery was occluded for 60 mins and then reperfused for 5 hrs. At 30 mins of LAD occlusion, radioactive microspheres were injected through a left atrial catheter to assess coronary collateral blood flow into the ischemic region. After 5 hrs reperfusion, the heart was dyed to delineate the area at risk (AAR) of infarction and stained with triphenyl tetrazolium chloride to identity infarcted myocardium. During LAD occlusion and reperfusion, systemic hemodynamics and global left ventricular function were stable. Infarction was not detected in 4 hearts and was 1.6% of AAR in the other 2 hearts. In contrast, 6 dogs sham-trained in a chamber ventilated with compressed air and 5 untrained dogs subjected to the same LAD occlusion/reperfusion protocol had infarcts of 36.8% ± 5.8% and 35.2% ± 9.5% of the AAR, respectively. The reduction in infarct size of four of the six hypoxia-trained dogs could not be explained by enhanced collateral blood flow to the AAR. Hypoxia-trained dogs had no ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation. Three sham-trained dogs had ventricular tachycardia and two had ventricular fibrillation. Three untrained dogs had ventricular fibrillation. In conclusion, intermittent hypoxic training protects canine myocardium from infarction and life-threatening arrhythmias during coronary artery occlusion and reperfusion. The mechanism responsible for this potent cardioprotection merits further study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)806-812
Number of pages7
JournalExperimental Biology and Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 2004


  • Cardiac protection
  • Collateral blood flow
  • Intermittent hypoxia
  • Myocardial infarction


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