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Papers of the Week

2022 Sep 12

Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol

Influence of graded hypercapnia on endurance exercise performance in healthy humans.


Ryan BJ, Seeley AD, Pitsas DM, Mayer TA, Caldwell AR, Ceaser TG, Luippold AJ, Charkoudian N, Salgado RM
Am J Physiol Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 2022 Sep 12.
PMID: 36094451.


Military and/or emergency services personnel may be required to perform high-intensity physical activity during exposure to elevated inspired carbon dioxide (CO). Although many of the physiological consequences of hypercapnia are well characterized, the effects of graded increases in inspired CO on self-paced endurance performance have not been determined. The aim of this study was to compare the effects of 0%, 2%, and 4% inspired CO on two-mile run performance as well as physiological and perceptual responses during time trial exercise. Twelve physically active volunteers (peak oxygen uptake = 49±5 mL kg min; 3 women) performed three experimental trials in a randomized, single-blind, crossover manner, breathing 21% oxygen with either 0%, 2%, or 4% CO. During each trial, participants completed 10 minutes of walking at ~40% peak oxygen uptake followed by a self-paced two-mile treadmill time trial. One participant was unable to complete the 4% CO trial due to lightheadedness during the run. Compared to the 0% CO trial, run performance was 5±3% and 7±3% slower in the 2% and 4% CO trials, respectively (both p<0.001). Run performance was significantly slower with 4% vs. 2% CO (p=0.046). The dose-dependent performance impairments were accompanied by stepwise increases in mean ventilation, despite significant reductions in running speed. Dyspnea and headache were significantly elevated during the 4% CO trial compared to both the 0% and 2% trials. Overall, our findings show that graded increases in inspired CO impair endurance performance in a stepwise manner in healthy humans.