UBC-Nepal expedition: The use of oral antioxidants does not alter cerebrovascular function at sea level or high altitude

Alexander B. Hansen*, Ryan L. Hoiland, Nia C. S. Lewis, Michael M. Tymko, Joshua C. Tremblay, Michael Stembridge, Daniela Nowak-Flück, Howard H. Carter, Damian M. Bailey, Philip Ainslie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

New Findings - 

What is the central question of the study? 

Does the use of antioxidants alter cerebrovascular function and blood flow at sea level (344 m) and/or high altitude (5050 m)? 

What is the main finding and its importance? 

This is the first study to investigate whether antioxidant administration alters cerebrovascular regulation and blood flow in response to hypercapnia, acute hypoxia and chronic hypoxia in healthy humans. We demonstrate that an acute dose of antioxidants does not alter cerebrovascular function and blood flow at sea level (344 m) or after 12 days at high altitude (5050 m). 

Hypoxia is associated with an increase in systemic and cerebral formation of free radicals and associated reactants that may be linked to impaired cerebral vascular function and neurological sequelae. To what extent oral antioxidant prophylaxis impacts cerebrovascular function in humans throughout the course of acclimatization to the hypoxia of terrestrial high altitude has not been examined. Thus, the purpose of the present study was to examine the influence of orally ingested antioxidants at clinically relevant doses (vitamins C and E and α-lipoic acid) on cerebrovascular regulation at sea level (344 m; n = 12; female n = 2 participants) and at high altitude (5050 m; n = 9; female n = 2) in a randomized, placebo-controlled and double-blinded crossover design. Hypercapnic and hypoxic cerebrovascular reactivity tests of the internal carotid artery (ICA) were conducted at sea level, and global and regional cerebral blood flow (CBF; i.e. ICA and vertebral artery) were assessed 10-12 days after arrival at 5050 m. At sea level, acute administration of antioxidants did not alter cerebral hypoxic cerebrovascular reactivity (pre versus post: 1.5 ± 0.7 versus 1.2 ± 0.8%CBF/-%SpO2; P = 0.96) or cerebral hypercapnic cerebrovascular reactivity (pre versus post: 5.7 ± 2.0 versus 5.8 ± 1.9%CBF/mmHg; P = 0.33). Furthermore, global CBF (P = 0.43) and cerebral vascular conductance (ICA P = 0.08; vertebral artery P = 0.32) were unaltered at 5050 m after antioxidant administration. In conclusion, these data show that an oral antioxidant cocktail known to attenuate systemic oxidative stress failed to alter cerebrovascular function at sea level and CBF during acclimatization to high altitude.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)523-534
Number of pages12
JournalExperimental Physiology
Volume103
Issue number4
Early online date10 Feb 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018

Keywords

  • Antioxidants
  • Cerebral blood flow
  • Oxidative stress

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