UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Hypoxia and autonomic control Querido, Jordan Scott


Humans have a remarkable ability to cope with and survive exposure to hypoxia. Some have suggested a benefit in certain physiological systems in response to such exposure. However, the physiological response to hypoxia is multifaceted and includes an orchestrated response from many autonomic mechanisms. Thus, the purpose of this thesis was to more fully understand the human autonomic response to hypoxia as an integrated unit. Furthermore, pathological models of hypoxia provide evidence that suggests hypoxia can result in an autonomic response that outlasts the hypoxic stimulus. However, the persistent effect of hypoxia is only evident in certain reflexes, although comorbidities that accompany a pathological model complicate interpretation. Therefore, employing a healthy human model with continued measurement of physiological measures in the post-hypoxia period provides a more complete understanding of the integrated human physiological response to hypoxia. This Doctoral thesis is comprised of four separate investigations, each focusing on autonomic control both during and following an acute hypoxic exposure. In the first study (Chapter 2), the microneurography technique was used to demonstrate that the chemoreflex plays an important role in persistent sympathoexcitation following acute isocapnic hypoxia. With the use of the spontaneous baroreflex analysis technique, the follow-up study (Chapter 3) implicated a resetting of the arterial baroreflex that works to permit the persistent sympathoexcitation. The focus of the third study (Chapter 4) was on cerebrovascular control during fluctuations in blood pressure via bolus injections of vasoactive drugs. There was an improvement in cerebral autoregulation to increases in blood pressure following acute isocapnic hypoxia. The final study (Chapter 5) considered the role of carbon dioxide on hypoxic cerebral autoregulation, and found an impairment in isocapnic hypoxia but no effect in poikilocapnic hypoxia. The findings from this series of studies demonstrate the acute and persistent effects of short-term hypoxia, and the integrated nature in which autonomic mechanisms orchestrate the human physiological response to hypoxia.

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