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The role of haemoglobin mass on VO(2)max following normobaric 'live high-train low' in endurance-trained athletes


Robach, Paul; Siebenmann, Christoph; Jacobs, Robert A; Rasmussen, Peter; Nordsborg, Nikolai; Pesta, Dominik; Gnaiger, Erich; Díaz, Víctor; Christ, Andreas; Fiedler, Julia; Crivelli, Nadine; Secher, Niels H; Pichon, Aurélien; Maggiorini, Marco; Lundby, Carsten (2012). The role of haemoglobin mass on VO(2)max following normobaric 'live high-train low' in endurance-trained athletes. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 46(11):822-827.

Abstract

It remains unclear by which mechanism 'live high-train low' (LHTL) altitude training increases exercise performance. Haematological and skeletal muscle adaptations have both been proposed. To test the hypotheses that (i) LHTL improves maximal oxygen uptake (VO(2)max) and (ii) this improvement is related to hypoxia-induced increases in total haemoglobin mass (Hb(mass)) and not to improved maximal oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, we determined VO(2)max before LHTL and after LHTL, before and after the altitude-induced increases in Hb(mass) (measured by carbon-monoxide rebreathing) had been abolished by isovolumic haemodilution. We obtained skeletal muscle biopsies to quantify mitochondrial oxidative capacity and efficiency. Sixteen endurance-trained athletes were assigned (double-blinded, placebo controlled) to ≥16 h/day over 4 weeks to normoxia (placebo, n=6) or normobaric hypoxia equivalent to 3000 m altitude (LHTL, n=10). Four-week LHTL did not increase VO(2)max, irrespective of treatment (LHTL: 1.5%; placebo: 2.0%). Hb(mass) was slightly increased (4.6%) in 5 (of 10) LHTL subjects but this was not accompanied by a concurrent increase in VO(2)max. In the subjects demonstrating an increase in Hb(mass), isovolumic haemodilution elicited a 5.8% decrease in VO(2)max. Cycling efficiency was altered neither with time nor by LHTL. Neither maximal capacity of oxidative phosphorylation nor mitochondrial efficiency was modified by time or LHTL. The present results suggest that LHTL has no positive effect on VO(2)max in endurance-trained athletes because (i) muscle maximal oxidative capacity is not improved following LHTL and (ii) erythrocyte volume expansion after LHTL, if any, is too small to alter O(2) transport.

It remains unclear by which mechanism 'live high-train low' (LHTL) altitude training increases exercise performance. Haematological and skeletal muscle adaptations have both been proposed. To test the hypotheses that (i) LHTL improves maximal oxygen uptake (VO(2)max) and (ii) this improvement is related to hypoxia-induced increases in total haemoglobin mass (Hb(mass)) and not to improved maximal oxidative capacity of skeletal muscle, we determined VO(2)max before LHTL and after LHTL, before and after the altitude-induced increases in Hb(mass) (measured by carbon-monoxide rebreathing) had been abolished by isovolumic haemodilution. We obtained skeletal muscle biopsies to quantify mitochondrial oxidative capacity and efficiency. Sixteen endurance-trained athletes were assigned (double-blinded, placebo controlled) to ≥16 h/day over 4 weeks to normoxia (placebo, n=6) or normobaric hypoxia equivalent to 3000 m altitude (LHTL, n=10). Four-week LHTL did not increase VO(2)max, irrespective of treatment (LHTL: 1.5%; placebo: 2.0%). Hb(mass) was slightly increased (4.6%) in 5 (of 10) LHTL subjects but this was not accompanied by a concurrent increase in VO(2)max. In the subjects demonstrating an increase in Hb(mass), isovolumic haemodilution elicited a 5.8% decrease in VO(2)max. Cycling efficiency was altered neither with time nor by LHTL. Neither maximal capacity of oxidative phosphorylation nor mitochondrial efficiency was modified by time or LHTL. The present results suggest that LHTL has no positive effect on VO(2)max in endurance-trained athletes because (i) muscle maximal oxidative capacity is not improved following LHTL and (ii) erythrocyte volume expansion after LHTL, if any, is too small to alter O(2) transport.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > Center for Integrative Human Physiology
05 Vetsuisse Faculty > Institute of Veterinary Physiology
Dewey Decimal Classification:570 Life sciences; biology
610 Medicine & health
Language:English
Date:2012
Deposited On:27 Nov 2012 13:39
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 16:05
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
Series Name:British Journal of Sports Medicine
ISSN:0306-3674
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2012-091078
PubMed ID:22790809
Permanent URL: https://doi.org/10.5167/uzh-66900

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