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Decreased lung capillary blood volume post-exercise is compensated by increased membrane diffusing capacity

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-16, 15:01 authored by Johns, DP, Danielle BerryDanielle Berry, Maskrey, M, Wood-Baker, R, Reid, DW, Eugene WaltersEugene Walters, Justin WallsJustin Walls
The diffusing capacity of the lung for carbon monoxide (DLCO) decreases to below the pre-exercise value in the hours following a bout of intense exercise. Two mechanisms have been proposed: (1) development of pulmonary oedema and (2) redistribution of central blood volume to peripheral muscles causing a reduction in pulmonary capillary blood volume (Vc). In the present study DLCO, Vc and the membrane diffusing capacity (Dm) were measured in nine healthy females using a rebreathing method, in contrast to the single breath technique employed in previous studies. DLCO, Vc and Dm were measured before and at 1, 2, 3, 16 and 24 h following maximal treadmill exercise. Compared with pre-exercise values, DLCO was depressed by up to 8.9 (3.0)% (P < 0.05) for the first 3 h following exercise, but had returned to pre-exercise values by 16 h post-exercise. Vc fell by 21.2 (4.1)% (P < 0.05) at 3 h post-exercise, but at the same time Dm increased by 14.7 (9.1)%. It was concluded that: (1) the increase in Dm made it unlikely that the fall in DLCO was due to interstitial oedema and injury to the blood gas barrier; (2) on the other hand, the reduction in DLCO following exercise was consistent with a redistribution of blood away from the lungs; and (3) the trend for Dm and Vc to reciprocate one another indicates a situation in which a fall in Vc nevertheless promotes gas transfer at the respiratory membrane. It is suggested that this effect is brought about by the reorientation of red blood cells within the pulmonary capillaries following exercise. © Springer-Verlag 2004.


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European Journal of Applied Physiology










Tasmanian School of Medicine



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