AltitudeOmics: on the consequences of high-altitude acclimatization for the development of fatigue during locomotor exercise in humans

Markus Amann, Stuart Goodall, Rosie Twomey, Andrew Subudhi, Andrew Lovering, Robert Roach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

41 Citations (Scopus)


The development of muscle fatigue is oxygen (O2)-delivery sensitive [arterial O2 content (CaO2) × limb blood flow (QL)]. Locomotor exercise in acute hypoxia (AH) is, compared with sea level (SL), associated with reduced CaO2 and exaggerated inspiratory muscle work (Winsp), which impairs QL, both of which exacerbate fatigue individually by compromising O2 delivery. Since chronic hypoxia (CH) normalizes CaO2 but exacerbates Winsp, we investigated the consequences of a 14-day exposure to high altitude on exercise-induced locomotor muscle fatigue. Eight subjects performed the identical constant-load cycling exercise (138 ± 14 W; 11 ± 1 min) at SL (partial pressure of inspired O2, 147.1 ± 0.5 Torr), in AH (73.8 ± 0.2 Torr), and in CH (75.7 ± 0.1 Torr). Peripheral fatigue was expressed as pre- to postexercise percent reduction in electrically evoked potentiated quadriceps twitch force (ΔQtw,pot). Central fatigue was expressed as the exercise-induced percent decrease in voluntary muscle activation (ΔVA). Resting CaO2 at SL and CH was similar, but CaO2 in AH was lower compared with SL and CH (17.3 ± 0.5, 19.3 ± 0.7, 20.3 ± 1.3 ml O2/dl, respectively). Winsp during exercise increased with acclimatization (SL: 387 ± 36, AH: 503 ± 53, CH: 608 ± 67 cmH2O·s(-1)·min(-1); P <0.01). Exercise at SL did not induce central or peripheral fatigue. ΔQtw,pot was significant but similar in AH and CH (21 ± 2% and 19 ± 3%; P = 0.24). ΔVA was significant in both hypoxic conditions but smaller in CH vs. AH (4 ± 1% vs. 8 ± 2%; P <0.05). In conclusion, acclimatization to severe altitude does not attenuate the substantial impact of hypoxia on the development of peripheral fatigue. In contrast, acclimatization attenuates, but does not eliminate, the exacerbation of central fatigue associated with exercise in severe AH.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)634-642
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'AltitudeOmics: on the consequences of high-altitude acclimatization for the development of fatigue during locomotor exercise in humans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this