Comparing and characterizing transient and steady-state tests of the peripheral chemoreflex in humans

Jamie R. Pfoh, Michael M. Tymko, Maria Abrosimova, Lindsey M. Boulet, Glen E. Foster, Anthony R. Bain, Philip N. Ainslie, Craig D. Steinback, Christina D. Bruce, Trevor A. Day*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    12 Citations (Scopus)


    Carotid chemoreceptors detect changes in arterial and , eliciting a peripheral chemoreflex (PCR). Steady-state (SS) hypoxia tests using dynamic end-tidal forcing (DEF) have been used to assess the hypoxic ventilatory response (HVR) but may be confounded by concomitant systemic effects. Transient tests of the PCR have also been developed but are not widely used, nor have the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular responses been characterized. We characterized the cardiorespiratory and cerebrovascular responses to transient tests of the PCR and compared the HVR between transient and SS-DEF tests. We hypothesized that the cardiovascular and cerebrovascular responses to the transient tests would be minimal and that the respiratory responses elicited from the transient and SS-DEF tests would be different in magnitude and not well correlated within individuals. Participants underwent five consecutive trials of two transient tests [three-breath 100% N2 (TT-N2) and a single-breath 13% CO2, in air] and two 10 min SS-DEF tests [isocapnic (SS-ISO) and poikilocapnic (SS-POI) hypoxia]. In response to the transient tests, heart rate, mean arterial pressure and the middle and posterior cerebral artery blood velocity increased (all P < 0.01), but responses were small (all <10%) and transient. Although the TT-N2 and SS-POI tests elicited similar HVR magnitudes, they were not well correlated within individuals (r = 0.064, P = 0.79). The TT-N2 test elicited a smaller HVR than the SS-ISO test, but they were correlated within individuals (r = 0.57, P = 0.008). Given that the transient tests exploit the temporal domain of the peripheral chemoreceptors and have minimal cardiovascular and cerebrovascular confounders, we suggest that they may have broader utility than previously appreciated.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)432-447
    Number of pages16
    JournalExperimental Physiology
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2016


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