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European Journal of Applied Physiology

, Volume 119, Issue 11–12, pp 2529–2544 | Cite as

Steady-state cerebral blood flow regulation at altitude: interaction between oxygen and carbon dioxide

  • Hailey C. Lafave
  • Shaelynn M. Zouboules
  • Marina A. James
  • Graeme M. Purdy
  • Jordan L. Rees
  • Craig D. Steinback
  • Peter Ondrus
  • Tom D. Brutsaert
  • Heidi E. Nysten
  • Cassandra E. Nysten
  • Ryan L. Hoiland
  • Mingma T. Sherpa
  • Trevor A. DayEmail author
Original Article

Abstract

High-altitude ascent imposes a unique cerebrovascular challenge due to two opposing blood gas chemostimuli. Specifically, hypoxia causes cerebral vasodilation, whereas respiratory-induced hypocapnia causes vasoconstriction. The conflicting nature of these two superimposed chemostimuli presents a challenge in quantifying cerebrovascular reactivity (CVR) in chronic hypoxia. During incremental ascent to 4240 m over 7 days in the Nepal Himalaya, we aimed to (a) characterize the relationship between arterial blood gas stimuli and anterior, posterior and global (g)CBF, (b) develop a novel index to quantify cerebral blood flow (CBF) in relation to conflicting steady-state chemostimuli, and (c) assess these relationships with cerebral oxygenation (rSO2). On rest days during ascent, participants underwent supine resting measures at 1045 m (baseline), 3440 m (day 3) and 4240 m (day 7). These measures included pressure of arterial (Pa)CO2, PaO2, arterial O2 saturation (SaO2; arterial blood draws), unilateral anterior, posterior and gCBF (duplex ultrasound; internal carotid artery [ICA] and vertebral artery [VA], gCBF [{ICA + VA} × 2], respectively) and rSO2 (near-infrared spectroscopy). We developed a novel stimulus index (SI), taking into account both chemostimuli (PaCO2/SaO2). Subsequently, CBF was indexed against the SI to assess steady-state cerebrovascular responsiveness (SS-CVR). When both competing chemostimuli are taken into account, (a) SS-CVR was significantly higher in ICA, VA and gCBF at 4240 m compared to lower altitudes, (b) delta SS-CVR with ascent (1045 m vs. 4240 m) was higher in ICA vs. VA, suggesting regional differences in CBF regulation, and (c) ICA SS-CVR was strongly and positively correlated (r = 0.79) with rSO2 at 4240 m.

Keywords

Cerebral blood flow Cerebrovascular reactivity High altitude Hypoxia Hypocapnia 

Abbreviations

ABG

Arterial blood gas

CaO2

Arterial oxygen content

CVC

Cerebrovascular conductance

CBF

Cerebral blood flow

CVR

Cerebrovascular reactivity

CBV

Cerebral blood velocity

DO2

Cerebral oxygen delivery

gCBF

Global cerebral blood flow

ICA

Internal carotid artery

PaCO2

Pressure or arterial carbon dioxide

PaO2

Pressure of arterial oxygen

rSO2

Regional cerebral oxygen saturation

SaO2

Arterial oxygen saturation

SI

Stimulus index (PaCO2/SaO2)

SS-CVR

Steady-state cerebrovascular reactivity

SS-CVCR

Steady-state cerebrovascular conductance reactivity

VA

Vertebral artery

Notes

Acknowledgements

We gratefully acknowledge the time and effort of our research participants and our Sherpa guide team. The principal investigator (TAD) dedicates this manuscript to the memory of Dr. Christopher Willie.

Author contributions

HCL: data analysis, intellectual contribution, first draft of manuscript, and manuscript editing; SMZ: data analysis and manuscript editing; MAJ, GMP, JLR, PO, TDB, HEN, and CEN: data collection, manuscript editing; CDS, intellectual contribution, assistance with ethics, and manuscript editing; RLH: intellectual contribution and manuscript editing, MTS: Nepalese collaboration, assistance with ethics in Nepal, and manuscript editing; TAD: study design, expedition organizer, ethical clearance, funding, data analysis, intellectual contribution, and manuscript editing. All listed co-authors approved the final version of the manuscript, agree to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved, all persons designated as authors qualify for authorship, and all those who qualify for authorship are listed.

Funding

Financial support for this work was provided by (a) Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Undergraduate Student Research Assistantship (SZ, HL); (b) Alberta Innovates Health Solution Summer studentship (CN); (c) Government of Alberta Student Temporary Employment Program (SZ), and NSERC Discovery grants (TAD; RGPIN-2016-04915; CDS RGPIN-2015-06637).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The author declares that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hailey C. Lafave
    • 1
  • Shaelynn M. Zouboules
    • 1
  • Marina A. James
    • 2
  • Graeme M. Purdy
    • 2
  • Jordan L. Rees
    • 2
  • Craig D. Steinback
    • 2
  • Peter Ondrus
    • 3
  • Tom D. Brutsaert
    • 4
  • Heidi E. Nysten
    • 5
  • Cassandra E. Nysten
    • 1
  • Ryan L. Hoiland
    • 6
  • Mingma T. Sherpa
    • 7
  • Trevor A. Day
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biology, Faculty of Science and TechnologyMount Royal UniversityCalgaryCanada
  2. 2.Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport, and RecreationUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  3. 3.Department of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and DentistryUniversity of AlbertaEdmontonCanada
  4. 4.University of SyracuseSyracuseUSA
  5. 5.Red Deer Regional HospitalRed DeerCanada
  6. 6.Centre for Heart, Lung, and Vascular HealthUniversity of British ColumbiaKelownaCanada
  7. 7.Kunde Hospital, KhundeSolukhumbuNepal

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