, Volume 103, Issue 4, p 485
Date: 27 Mar 2008

Mechanism by which rHuEPO improves submaximal exercise performance

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To the Editor,

Thomsen et al. (2007) have recently reported that 4–11 weeks of treatment with recombinant human erythropoietin (rHuEPO) increases submaximal exercise performance at 80% of the maximum oxygen consumption (VO2max) by ∼54% whereas the increase in the VO2max is less, ∼12%. The authors propose that “it would seem obvious that the main reason (for the increased exercise performance) is … the augmented oxygen carrying capacity of the blood”. The authors also acknowledge that “the ergogenic effect of rHuEPO treatment cannot be explained by the improvement in VO2max alone”.

It is of interest to speculate how the “increased oxygen carrying capacity of the blood” following rHuEPO therapy might increase exercise performance. The usual assumption is that an enhanced blood oxygen carrying capacity increases exercise performance by improving the oxygenation of the exercising muscles especially during testing for VO2max. If this explanation also applies during submaximal exercise, then i ...