Redox Regulation of Haemostasis; Modulation by Inspiratory Hypoxia and Physical Exercise

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    Introduction: Haemostasis is the arrest of bleeding. In recent years, in-vitro studies have suggested that secondary haemostasis (blood coagulation) is subject to activation by reactive oxygen species (ROS). It is known that patients who suffer from vascular disease are typically hypoxaemic and in the case of peripheral occlusive artery disease (POAD), physical exercise is used to improve symptom free mobility in the affected limbs. Hypoxia and physical exercise are two potent independent and synergistic initiators of ROS. We identified a clear need for in-vivo analysis of this novel area of research.

    Aims: There were two main aims of this research. 1. To explore the in-vivo influences of inspiratory hypoxia and physical exercise on biomarkers of haemostasis; and in doing so and subsequently carry out a randomised double blind placebo control trial to explore the interaction between oxidative stress (ROS accumulation) and haemostasis.

    Hypothesis: It was hypothesised that hypoxia and exercise would be independently and synergistically associated with an increase in oxidative stress, resulting in coagulation activation. We hypothesised that intervention with free radical reaction-chain breaking antioxidant vitamins would attenuate oxidative stress and thus attenuate the activation of coagulation.

    Methods: study 1 - Healthy males were subjected to six hours of normobaric hypoxia (12% inspired oxygen) and then a physical exercise challenge to exhaustion (cycling ramp-test). Citrated plasma was collected pre hypoxic exposure, post six hours of exposure, then immediately post exercise and analysed for routine clinical markers of coagulation (aPTT, PT, TT and fibrinogen) and analysed with and without correction for plasma volume shift. Data were analysed using a one-factor repeated measures ANOVA incorporating one within (condition: time point) subjects factor. Following a significant main effect and interaction, paired samples t-tests were employed to make post hoc comparisons at each level of the within-subjects factor. Study 2 - Healthy males were subjected to a double blind, randomised, placebo controlled intervention with vitamin C (a water soluble) and vitamin E (a lipid soluble), two ROS-scavenging, chain breaking antioxidants. The intervention lasted eight weeks to insure membrane enrichment with antioxidants. The methods of study one were repeated but with a pre-intervention time point added and the addition of two extra markers of thrombin generation (PF1+2 and T-AT). Data were analysed using a two-factor mixed ANOVA incorporating one between (group: antioxidant intervention vs. placebo control) and one within (condition: time point) subjects factor. Following a significant main effect and interaction, a paired samples t-test was used to make post hoc comparisons at each level of the within-subjects factor, with the alpha level Bonferroni corrected for multiple comparisons Between-group comparisons were assessed using independent samples t-tcsts applied to each level of the between-subjects factor.

    Results: Study 1 - Hypoxia was not associated with activation of coagulation. Physical exercise increased the activity of contact factor coagulation pathway activation. Study 2 - The intervention increased thrombin generation in the antioxidant group. This was met with an antagonistic antithrombin activation. Hypoxia did not impact the placebo group, but normalised the thrombin generation of the antioxidant group. Physical exercise increased contact factor pathway (CFP) as per study 1, but thrombin generation was unaltered. Hypoxia suppressed fibrinolysis post exercise, which is known to be activated in normoxic exercise.

    Discussion: In study one, hypoxia alone did not activate coagulation. We hypothesised that this could be tentative evidence of a ROS concentration threshold for activation since once exercise was superimposed the accumulation of ROS activated the CFP. Correction for changes in plasma volume nullified the increased activity of the CFP. Corrections for shifts in plasma volume are routinely ignored in the literature and this was a novel finding. Study 2 was the first intervention of its kind. The increase in thrombin generation pre-post intervention with antioxidants suggests compelling evidence of in-vivo regulation of coagulation by ROS. But the direction of change was completely contrary to the original hypothesis. The confirmation that hypoxia does not activate coagulation is important, especially given the controversy surrounding long-haul flight deep vein thrombosis.

    Interestingly, exercise did not increase thrombin generation, despite the increase in the CFP. These findings suggest haemostasis is indeed subject to control by the body's redox state invivo via an as of yet, unknown mechanism.
    Date of AwardDec 2012
    Original languageEnglish


    • Hemostasis
    • Blood coagulation disorders

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