The role of cerebral oxygenation and regional cerebral blood flow on tolerance to central hypovolemia

Victoria L. Kay, Caroline A. Rickards

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Tolerance to central hypovolemia is highly variable, and accumulating evidence suggests that protection of anterior cerebral blood flow (CBF) is not an underlying mechanism. We hypothesized that individuals with high tolerance to central hypovolemia would exhibit protection of cerebral oxygenation (ScO2), and prolonged preservation of CBF in the posterior vs. anterior cerebral circulation. Eighteen subjects (7 male/11 female) completed a presyncope-limited lower body negative pressure (LBNP) protocol (3 mmHg/min onset rate). ScO2 (via near-infrared spectroscopy), middle cerebral artery velocity (MCAv), posterior cerebral artery velocity (PCAv) (both via transcranial Doppler ultrasound), and arterial pressure (via finger photoplethysmography) were measured continuously. Subjects who completed ≥70 mmHg LBNP were classified as high tolerant (HT; n = 7) and low tolerant (LT; n = 11) if they completed ≤60 mmHg LBNP. The minimum difference in LBNP tolerance between groups was 193 s (LT = 1,243 ± 185 s vs. HT = 1,996 ± 212 s; P < 0.001; Cohen's d = 3.8). Despite similar reductions in mean MCAv in both groups, ScO2 decreased in LT subjects from −15 mmHg LBNP (P = 0.002; Cohen's d=1.8), but was maintained at baseline values until −75 mmHg LBNP in HT subjects (P < 0.001; Cohen's d = 2.2); ScO2 was lower at −30 and −45 mmHg LBNP in LT subjects (P ≤ 0.02; Cohen's d ≥ 1.1). Similarly, mean PCAv decreased below baseline from −30 mmHg LBNP in LT subjects (P = 0.004; Cohen's d = 1.0), but remained unchanged from baseline in HT subjects until −75 mmHg (P = 0.006; Cohen's d = 2.0); PCAv was lower at −30 and −45 mmHg LBNP in LT subjects (P ≤ 0.01; Cohen'sd ≥ 0.94). Individuals with higher tolerance to central hypovolemia exhibit prolonged preservation of CBF in the posterior cerebral circulation and sustained cerebral tissue oxygenation, both associated with a delay in the onset of presyncope.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R375-R383
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2016



  • Lower body negative pressure
  • Middle cerebral artery
  • Posterior cerebral artery

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