Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Pulmonary ventilation and pulmonary arterial pressure both rise progressively during the first few hours of human acclimatization to hypoxia. These responses are highly variable between individuals, but the origin of this variability is unknown. Here, we sought to determine whether the variabilities between different measures of response to sustained hypoxia were related, which would suggest a common source of variability. Eighty volunteers individually underwent an 8-h isocapnic exposure to hypoxia (end-tidal P(O2)=55 Torr) in a purpose-built chamber. Measurements of ventilation and pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) assessed by Doppler echocardiography were made during the exposure. Before and after the exposure, measurements were made of the ventilatory sensitivities to acute isocapnic hypoxia (G(pO2)) and hyperoxic hypercapnia, the latter divided into peripheral (G(pCO2)) and central (G(cCO2)) components. Substantial acclimatization was observed in both ventilation and PASP, the latter being 40% greater in women than men. No correlation was found between the magnitudes of pulmonary ventilatory and pulmonary vascular responses. For G(pO2), G(pCO2) and G(cC O2), but not the sensitivity of PASP to acute hypoxia, the magnitude of the increase during acclimatization was proportional to the pre-acclimatization value. Additionally, the change in G(pO2) during acclimatization to hypoxia correlated well with most other measures of ventilatory acclimatization. Of the initial measurements prior to sustained hypoxia, only G(pCO2) predicted the subsequent rise in ventilation and change in G(pO2) during acclimatization. We conclude that the magnitudes of the ventilatory and pulmonary vascular responses to sustained hypoxia are predominantly determined by different factors and that the initial G(pCO2) is a modest predictor of ventilatory acclimatization.

Original publication




Journal article


J Physiol

Publication Date





1197 - 1213


Acclimatization, Adolescent, Adult, Altitude, Blood Pressure, Carbon Dioxide, Female, Humans, Hypoxia, Male, Middle Aged, Oxygen, Pulmonary Artery, Pulmonary Ventilation