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It is well established that the ventilatory response to carbon dioxide (CO(2)) measured by modified rebreathing (Sr(VE)) is closer to that measured by the steady-state method (Ss(VE)) than is the response measured by Read's rebreathing method. It is also known that the value estimated by the steady-state method depends upon the combination of data points used to measure it. The aim of this study was to investigate if these observations were also true for cerebral blood flow (CBF), as measured by steady-state (Ss(CBF)) and modified rebreathing (Sr(CBF)) tests. Six subjects undertook two protocols: (a) steady state: PET(CO2) was held at 1.5 mm Hg above normal (isocapnia) for 10 min, then raised to three levels of hypercapnia, (8 min each; 6.5, 11.5 and 16.5 mm Hg above normal, separated by 4 min isocapnia). End-tidal PO2 was held at 300 mm Hg; (b) modified rebreathing: subjects underwent 6 min of voluntary hyperventilation to PET(CO2) approximately 20 mm Hg, and then rebreathed via a 6l bag filled with 6.5% CO(2) in O(2). We confirmed that the value for Ss(VE) depended upon the combination of data points used to calculate it, and also confirmed that Ss(VE) and Sr(VE) were similar. However, this was not the case with CBF. Estimates of Ss(CBF) were the same, regardless of the data points used in calculation, and Ss(CBF) was 89% greater than Sr(CBF) (P<0.05). We interpret these findings as consistent with the notion that the specific CO(2) stimulus differs for CBF and ventilatory control. The data also indicate that prior hypocapnia in the modified rebreathing protocol may have a persistent effect on both cerebral vessels and central ventilatory control.

Original publication




Journal article


Respir Physiol Neurobiol

Publication Date





34 - 44


Adult, Brain, Carbon Dioxide, Cerebrovascular Circulation, Humans, Pulmonary Ventilation, Respiratory Function Tests, Tidal Volume