Effects of continuous hypoxia on flow-mediated dilation in the cerebral and systemic circulation: on the regulatory significance of shear rate phenotype

J Physiol Sci. 2022 Jul 20;72(1):16. doi: 10.1186/s12576-022-00841-5.


Emergent evidence suggests that cyclic intermittent hypoxia increases cerebral arterial shear rate and endothelial function, whereas continuous exposure decreases anterior cerebral oxygen (O2) delivery. To examine to what extent continuous hypoxia impacts cerebral shear rate, cerebral endothelial function, and consequent cerebral O2 delivery (CDO2), eight healthy males were randomly assigned single-blind to 7 h passive exposure to both normoxia (21% O2) and hypoxia (12% O2). Blood flow in the brachial and internal carotid arteries were determined using Duplex ultrasound and included the combined assessment of systemic and cerebral endothelium-dependent flow-mediated dilatation. Systemic (brachial artery) flow-mediated dilatation was consistently lower during hypoxia (P = 0.013 vs. normoxia), whereas cerebral flow-mediated dilation remained preserved (P = 0.927 vs. normoxia) despite a reduction in internal carotid artery antegrade shear rate (P = 0.002 vs. normoxia) and CDO2 (P < 0.001 vs. normoxia). Collectively, these findings indicate that the reduction in CDO2 appears to be independent of cerebral endothelial function and contrasts with that observed during cyclic intermittent hypoxia, highlighting the regulatory importance of (hypoxia) dose duration and flow/shear rate phenotype.

Keywords: Antegrade shear rate; Cerebral blood flow; Endothelial function; Flow-mediated dilation; Hypoxia; Retrograde shear rate.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Dilatation
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia*
  • Male
  • Oxygen
  • Phenotype
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Vasodilation* / physiology


  • Oxygen