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In the preceding companion paper (L. S. G. E. Howard and P.A. Robbins, J. Appl. Physiol. 78: 1092-1097, 1995), we showed that ventilation rises during 8 h of isocapnic hypoxia. In the present study we report the changes that occur in the ventilatory response to acute hypoxia (AHVR) over 8 h of both isocapnic and poikilocapnic hypoxia. Ten subjects completed the study. Each was seated inside a chamber in which the inspired gas could be controlled so as to maintain the desired end-tidal gases (sampled via nasal catheter) constant. Three 8-h protocols were compared: 1) isocapnic hypoxia, at an end-tidal PO2 of 55 Torr with the end-tidal PCO2 held at the subject's resting value; 2) poikilocapnic hypoxia, at the same end-tidal PO2; and 3) control, where the inspired gas was air. AHVR was measured before and at 20 min and 4 and 8 h after the start of the experiment. A sequence of hypoxic square waves and sawtooth inputs was imposed by an end-tidal forcing system, with the subject breathing through a mouthpiece. End-tidal PCO2 was held constant at 1-1.5 Torr above resting. Values for hypoxic sensitivity (Gp; 1.min-1.%-1) and hypoxia-independent ventilation (Vc; l/min) were calculated for each test of AHVR. Both Gp and Vc increased significantly during both hypoxic exposures in relation to control (P < 0.001, analysis of variance). Over the 8-h period, increases in Gp were 87% in isocapnic hypoxia and 44% in poikilocapnic hypoxia, and increases in Vc were 89% in isocapnic hypoxia and 84% in poikilocapnic hypoxia. There were no significant differences between the isocapnic and poikilocapnic exposures. We conclude that Gp and Vc rise mainly as result of hypoxia per se and not the associated alkalosis.

Original publication




Journal article


J Appl Physiol (1985)

Publication Date





1098 - 1107


Adaptation, Physiological, Adolescent, Adult, Carbon Dioxide, Female, Humans, Hypoxia, Male, Models, Biological, Respiration, Respiratory System, Tidal Volume, Time Factors