Acute and chronic hypoxia: implications for cerebral function and exercise tolerance

Goodall, Stuart, Twomey, Rosie and Amann, Markus (2014) Acute and chronic hypoxia: implications for cerebral function and exercise tolerance. Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior, 2 (2). pp. 73-92. ISSN 2164-1846

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Purpose: To outline how hypoxia profoundly affects neuronal functionality and thus compromise exercise-performance. Methods: Investigations using electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) detecting neuronal changes at rest and those studying fatiguing effects on whole-body exercise performance in acute (AH) and chronic hypoxia (CH) were evaluated. Results: At rest during very early hypoxia (<1-h), slowing of cerebral neuronal activity is evident despite no change in corticospinal excitability. As time in hypoxia progresses (3-h), increased corticospinal excitability becomes evident; however, changes in neuronal activity are unknown. Prolonged exposure (3-5 d) causes a respiratory alkalosis which modulates Na+ channels, potentially explaining reduced neuronal excitability. Locomotor exercise in AH exacerbates the development of peripheral-fatigue; as the severity of hypoxia increases, mechanisms of peripheral-fatigue become less dominant and CNS hypoxia becomes the predominant factor. The greatest central-fatigue in AH occurs when SaO2 is ≤75%, a level that coincides with increasing impairments in neuronal activity. CH does not improve the level of peripheral-fatigue observed in AH; however, it attenuates the development of central-fatigue paralleling increases in cerebral O2 availability and corticospinal excitability. Conclusions: The attenuated development of central-fatigue in CH might explain, the improvements in locomotor exercise-performance commonly observed after acclimatisation to high altitude.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis Group in Fatigue: Biomedicine, Health & Behavior on 23/04/2014, available online:
Uncontrolled Keywords: brain, exercise, hypoxia, muscle, oxygen
Subjects: B100 Anatomy, Physiology and Pathology
C600 Sports Science
Department: Faculties > Health and Life Sciences > Sport, Exercise and Rehabilitation
Depositing User: Dr Stuart Goodall
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2014 15:20
Last Modified: 12 Oct 2019 16:26

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