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During ventilatory acclimatization to hypoxia (VAH), the relationship between ventilation (VE) and end-tidal PCO2 (PETCO2) changes. This study was designed to determine 1) whether these changes can be seen early in VAH and 2) if these changes are present, whether the responses differ between isocapnic and poikilocapnic exposures. Ten healthy volunteers were studied by using three 8-h exposures: 1) isocapnic hypoxia (IH), end-tidal PO2 (PETO2) = 55 Torr and PETCO2 held at the subject's normal prehypoxic value; 2) poikilocapnic hypoxia (PH), PETO2 = 55 Torr; and 3) control (C), air breathing. The VE-PETCO2 relationship was determined in hyperoxia (PETO2 = 200 Torr) before and after the exposures. We found a significant increase in the slopes of VE-PETCO2 relationship after both hypoxic exposures compared with control (IH vs. C, P < 0.01; PH vs. C, P < 0.001; analysis of covariance with pairwise comparisons). This increase was not significantly different between protocols IH and PH. No significant changes in the intercept were detected. We conclude that 8 h of hypoxia, whether isocapnic or poikilocapnic, increases the sensitivity of the hyperoxic chemoreflex response to CO2.

Original publication




Journal article


J Appl Physiol (1985)

Publication Date





1922 - 1928


Acclimatization, Adolescent, Adult, Alkalosis, Altitude, Blood Gas Analysis, Carbon Dioxide, Female, Humans, Hydrogen-Ion Concentration, Hypoxia, Male, Respiratory Mechanics, Time Factors