Eight weeks of static apnea training increases spleen volume but not acute spleen contraction

Respir Physiol Neurobiol. 2019 Aug;266:144-149. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2019.04.002. Epub 2019 Apr 19.


Splenic contraction is an important response to acute apnea causing the release of red blood cells into blood circulation. Current literature shows higher spleen volumes and greater spleen contractions in trained apnea divers compared to untrained individuals, but the influence of training is presently unknown. Thirteen subjects daily performed five static apneas for 8 weeks. Before, halfway through and after the apnea training period, subjects performed five maximal breath-holds at the laboratory. Baseline values for and changes in splenic volume and hemoglobin ([Hb]) were assessed. Although baseline spleen volume had increased (from 241 ± 55 mL PRE to 299 ± 51 mL POST training, p = 0.007), the absolute spleen contraction (142 ± 52 mL PRE and 139 ± 34 mL POST training, p = 0.868) and the acute increase in [Hb] remained unchanged. The present study shows that apnea training can increase the size of the spleen but that eight weeks of training is not sufficient to elicit significant training adaptations on the acute response.

Keywords: Apnea training; Hemoglobin; Spleen contraction; Spleen volume.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Apnea / physiopathology*
  • Breath Holding*
  • Breathing Exercises
  • Hemoglobins*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Spleen / anatomy & histology*
  • Spleen / physiology*
  • Time Factors
  • Young Adult


  • Hemoglobins