Effect of hematocrit on systemic O2 transport in hypoxic and normoxic exercise in rats

N C Gonzalez, Lars Peter Erwig, C F Painter, R L Clancy, P D Wagner

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30 Citations (Scopus)


The effect of hematocrit (Hct) on O2 transport in hypoxic [inspired PO2 (PIO2) approximately 70 Torr] and normoxic (PIO2 approximately 145 Torr) exercise was studied in rats acclimatized to 3 wk of PIO2 at approximately 70 Torr (A rats) and in nonacclimatized littermates (NA rats). Isovolumic exchange transfusion of plasma or red blood cells was used to lower Hct in A rats from approximately 60 to 45% and to raise Hct of NA rats from 45 to 60%: Controls were A and NA rats exchange transfused with whole blood at constant Hct. Lowering Hct of A rats lowered the arterial O2 concentration (CaO2) and the arterial-mixed venous O2 difference and increased the maximal cardiac output (Qmax) without changes in maximal O2 uptake (VO2 max) or in the product of Qmax x CaO2, circulatory O2 convection at maximal exercise (TO2 max). Raising Hct in NA rats produced the opposite changes in CaO2, arterial-mixed venous O2 difference, and Qmax, but VO2 max and TO2 max increased significantly, both in hypoxia and normoxia, because of relatively small changes in Qmax. In NA rats, a steeper slope of the line relating VO2 max to calculated mean capillary PO2 at high Hct suggested a higher tissue O2 diffusing capacity with high Hct. For a given Hct and Qmax, systemic arterial pressure was higher in A rats. The data suggest that 1) the effect of Hct on systemic hemodynamics is different in A and NA rats, resulting in different effects on VO2 max; 2) factors in addition to Hct contribute to the high systemic vascular resistance of A rats; and 3) increased diffusive conductance for O2, as well as increased TO2 max, could be responsible for the effect of Hct on VO2 max of NA rats.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1341-1348
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 1994


  • Acclimatization
  • Acid-Base Equilibrium
  • Animals
  • Anoxia
  • Cardiac Output
  • Hematocrit
  • Male
  • Oxygen
  • Oxygen Consumption
  • Physical Exertion
  • Pulmonary Diffusing Capacity
  • Pulmonary Gas Exchange
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


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