Exposure to acute normobaric hypoxia results in adaptions of both the macro- and microcirculatory system


Although acute hypoxia is of utmost pathophysiologic relevance in health and disease, studies on its effects on both the macro- and microcirculation are scarce. Herein, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the effects of acute normobaric hypoxia on human macro- and microcirculation. 20 healthy participants were enrolled in this study. Hypoxia was induced in a normobaric hypoxia chamber by decreasing the partial pressure of oxygen in inhaled air stepwisely (pO2; 21.25 kPa (0 k), 16.42 kPa (2 k), 12.63 kPa (4 k) and 9.64 kPa (6 k)). Macrocirculatory effects were assessed by cardiac output measurements, microcirculatory changes were investigated by sidestream dark-field imaging in the sublingual capillary bed and videocapillaroscopy at the nailfold. Exposure to hypoxia resulted in a decrease of systemic vascular resistance (p < 0.0001) and diastolic blood pressure (p = 0.014). Concomitantly, we observed an increase in heart rate (p < 0.0001) and an increase of cardiac output (p < 0.0001). In the sublingual microcirculation, exposure to hypoxia resulted in an increase of total vessel density, proportion of perfused vessels and perfused vessel density. Furthermore, we observed an increase in peripheral capillary density. Exposure to acute hypoxia results in vasodilatation of resistance arteries, as well as recruitment of microvessels of the central and peripheral microcirculation. The observed macro- and microcirculatory effects are most likely a result from compensatory mechanisms to ensure adequate tissue oxygenation.

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