Hemoglobin concentration and blood shift during dry static apnea in elite breath hold divers

Thomas Kjeld*, Thomas O Krag, Anders Brenøe, Ann Merete Møller, Henrik Christian Arendrup, Jens Højberg, Dan Fuglø, Søren Hancke, Lars Poulsen Tolbod, Lars Christian Gormsen, John Vissing, Egon Godthaab Hansen

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde


INTRODUCTION: Elite breath-hold divers (BHD) enduring apneas of more than 5 min are characterized by tolerance to arterial blood oxygen levels of 4.3 kPa and low oxygen-consumption in their hearts and skeletal muscles, similar to adult seals. Adult seals possess an adaptive higher hemoglobin-concentration and Bohr effect than pups, and when sedated, adult seals demonstrate a blood shift from the spleen towards the brain, lungs, and heart during apnea. We hypothesized these observations to be similar in human BHD. Therefore, we measured hemoglobin- and 2,3-biphosphoglycerate-concentrations in BHD (n = 11) and matched controls (n = 11) at rest, while myocardial mass, spleen and lower extremity volumes were assessed at rest and during apnea in BHD.

METHODS AND RESULTS: After 4 min of apnea, left ventricular myocardial mass (LVMM) determined by 15O-H2O-PET/CT (n = 6) and cardiac MRI (n = 6), was unaltered compared to rest. During maximum apnea (∼6 min), lower extremity volume assessed by DXA-scan revealed a ∼268 mL decrease, and spleen volume, assessed by ultrasonography, decreased ∼102 mL. Compared to age, BMI and VO2max matched controls (n = 11), BHD had similar spleen sizes and 2,3- biphosphoglycerate-concentrations, but higher total hemoglobin-concentrations.

CONCLUSION: Our results indicate: 1) Apnea training in BHD may increase hemoglobin concentration as an oxygen conserving adaptation similar to adult diving mammals. 2) The blood shift during dry apnea in BHD is 162% more from the lower extremities than from the spleen. 3) In contrast to the previous theory of the blood shift demonstrated in sedated adult seals, blood shift is not towards the heart during dry apnea in humans.

TidsskriftFrontiers in Physiology
Antal sider13
StatusUdgivet - 2024


Dyk ned i forskningsemnerne om 'Hemoglobin concentration and blood shift during dry static apnea in elite breath hold divers'. Sammen danner de et unikt fingeraftryk.