Two-week normobaric intermittent hypoxia exposures enhance oxyhemoglobin equilibrium and cardiac responses during hypoxemia

Peizhen Zhang, H. Fred Downey, Shande Chen, Xiangrong Shi

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19 Scopus citations


Intermittent hypoxia (IH) is extensively applied to challenge cardiovascular and respiratory function, and to induce physiological acclimatization. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that oxyhemoglobin equilibrium and tachy-cardiac responses during hypoxemia were enhanced after 14-day IH exposures. Normobaric-poikilocapnic hypoxia was induced with inhalation of 10% O2 for 5-6 min interspersed with 4 min recovery on eight nonsmokers. Heart rate (HR), arterial O2 saturation (SaO2), and end-tidal O2 (PETO2) were continuously monitored during cyclic normoxia and hypoxia. These variables were compared during the first and fifth hypoxic bouts between day 1 and day 14. There was a rightward shift in the oxyhemoglobin equilibrium response following 14-day IH exposures, as indicated by the greater PETO2 (an index of arterial PO2) at 50% of SaO2 on day 14 compared with day 1 [33.9 ± 1.5 vs. 28.2 ±1.3 mmHg (P = 0.005) during the first hypoxic bout and 39.4 ± 2.4 vs. 31.4 ± 1.5 mmHg (P = 0.006) during the fifth hypoxic bout] and by the augmented gains of ΔSaO2/ΔPetO2 (i.e., deoxygenation) during PETO2 from 65 to 40 mmHg in the first (1.12 ± 0.08 vs. 0.80 ± 0.02%/mmHg, P = 0.001) and the fifth (1.76 ± 0.31 vs. 1.05 ± 0.06%/mmHg, P = 0.024) hypoxic bouts. Repetitive IH exposures attenuated (P = 0.049) the tachycardiac response to hypoxia while significantly enhancing normoxic R-R interval variability in low-frequency and high-frequency spectra without changes in arterial blood pressure at rest or during hypoxia. We conclude that 14-day IH exposures enhance arterial O2 delivery and improve vagal control of HR during hypoxic hypoxemia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)R721-R730
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 15 Sep 2014


  • Arterial blood pressure
  • Arterial oxygen saturation
  • Chemoreflex
  • Heart rate variability
  • Oxygen dissociation


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