Human ventilatory responsiveness to hypoxia is unrelated to maximal aerobic capacity

A William Sheel, Michael S Koehle, Jordan A Guenette, Glen E Foster, Benjamin C Sporer, Tu T Diep, Donald C McKenzie
Journal of Applied Physiology 2006, 100 (4): 1204-9
Ventilatory responsiveness to hypoxia (HVR) has been reported to be different between highly trained endurance athletes and healthy sedentary controls. However, a linkage between aerobic capacity and HVR has not been a universal finding. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between HVR and maximal oxygen consumption (VO2 max) in healthy men with a wide range of aerobic capacities. Subjects performed a HVR test followed by an incremental cycle test to exhaustion. Participants were classified according to their maximal aerobic capacity. Those with a VO2 max of >or=60 ml x kg(-1) x min(-1) were considered highly trained (n = 13); those with a VO2 max of 50-60 ml x kg(-1) x min(-1) were considered moderately-trained (n = 18); and those with a VO2 max of <50 ml x kg(-1) x min(-1) were considered untrained (n = 24). No statistical differences were detected between the three groups for HVR (P > 0.05), and the HVR values were variable within each group (range: untrained = 0.28-1.61, moderately trained = 0.23-2.39, and highly trained = 0.08-1.73 l x min.%arterial O2 saturation(-1)). The relationship between HVR and VO2 max was not statistically significant (r = -0.1723; P > 0.05). HVR was also unrelated to maximal minute ventilation and ventilatory equivalents for O2 and CO2. We found that a spectrum of hypoxic ventilatory control is present in well-trained endurance athletes and moderately and untrained men. We interpret these observations to mean that other factors are more important in determining hypoxic ventilatory control than physical conditioning per se.

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