Cerebrovascular and ventilatory responses to acute normobaric hypoxia in girls and women

Laura E. Morris*, Daniela Flück, Philip N. Ainslie, Ali M. McManus

*Corresponding author for this work

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    Physiological responses to hypoxia in children are incompletely understood. We aimed to characterize cerebrovascular and ventilatory responses to normobaric hypoxia in girls and women. Ten healthy girls (9.9 ± 1.7 years; mean ± SD; Tanner stage 1 and 2) and their mothers (43.9 ± 3.5 years) participated. Internal carotid (ICA) and vertebral artery (VA) velocity, diameter and flow (Duplex ultrasound) was recorded pre- and post-1 h of hypoxic exposure (FIO2= 0.126;~4000 m) in a normobaric chamber. Ventilation (VE) and respiratory drive (VT/TI) expressed as delta change from baseline (∆%), and end-tidal carbon-dioxide (PETCO2) were collected at baseline (BL) and 5, 30 and 60 min of hypoxia (5/30/60 HYP). Heart rate (HR) and oxygen saturation (SpO2) were also collected at these time-points. SpO2 declined similarly in girls (BL-97%; 60HYP-80%, P < 0.05) and women (BL-97%; 60HYP-83%, P < 0.05). Global cerebral blood flow (gCBF) increased in both girls (BL-687; 60HYP-912 mL·min−1, P < 0.05) and women (BL-472; 60HYP-651 mL·min−1, P < 0.01), though the ratio of ICA:VA (%) contribution to gCBF differed significantly (girls, 75:25%; women, 61:39%). The relative increase in VE peaked at 30HYP in both girls (27%, P < 0.05) and women (19%, P < 0.05), as did ∆%VT/TI (girls, 41%; women, 27%, P's < 0.05). Tidal volume (VT) increased in both girls and women at 5HYP, remaining elevated above baseline in girls at 30 and 60 HYP, but declined back toward baseline in women. Girls elicit similar increases in gCBF and ventilatory parameters in response to acute hypoxia as women, though the pattern and contributions mediating these responses appear developmentally divergent.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere13372
    JournalPhysiological Reports
    Issue number15
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


    • Cerebral perfusion
    • children
    • hypoxia
    • respiratory drive
    • ventilation


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