Cardiopulmonary function during supramaximal exercise in hypoxia, normoxia and hyperoxia in Thoroughbred horses

J Equine Sci. 2020;31(4):67-73. doi: 10.1294/jes.31.67. Epub 2020 Dec 18.


Supramaximal exercise while inspiring different O2 gases may induce different responses in cardiopulmonary function at the same relative and/or absolute exercise intensity. The purpose of this study was to compare the effects of supramaximal exercise in hypoxia, normoxia and hyperoxia on cardiopulmonary function in Thoroughbred horses. Using a crossover design, five well-trained horses were made to run up a 6% grade on a treadmill at supramaximal speeds sustainable for approximately 110 sec (approximately 115% O2max) while breathing normoxic gas (NO, 21% O2) or hypoxic gas (LO, 15.3% O2) in random order. Horses also ran at the same speed, incline and run time as in NO while breathing hyperoxic gas (HONO, 28.8% O2) and as in LO while breathing normoxic gas (NOLO). Runs were on different days, and cardiopulmonary variables were analyzed with repeated-measures ANOVA and the Holm-Šidák method for pairwise comparisons. Supramaximal speeds differed significantly between NO and LO (14.0 ± 0.5 [SD] m/sec vs. 12.6 ± 0.5 m/sec), but run times to exhaustion did not (112 ± 17 sec vs. 103 ± 14 sec). The O2max in NO was higher than that in LO (165 ± 11 vs. 120 ± 15 ml (min× kg)), as was the arterial oxygen tension (66 ± 5 vs. 45 ± 2 Torr). Oxygen consumption was increased in HONO and NOLO compared with the values in NO and LO, respectively. Supramaximal exercise in hypoxia induces more severe hypoxemia and decreases O2max compared with normoxia at the same relative intensity. Conversely, supramaximal exercise in hyperoxia alleviates hypoxemia and increases O2 compared with normoxia at the same absolute intensity.

Keywords: V̇O2max; hyperoxia; hypoxemia; hypoxia; training.