In resting euthermic mammals, hypoxia elicits a hyperventilation that results from a combination of hyperpnea and hypometabolism. Often accompanying the hypoxia-induced hypometabolism is a drop in body temperature. To separate the synergic effects of hypothermia per se from the direct effects of hypoxia on metabolic rate, ventilation (VE), and O2 consumption (VO2) were measured in anesthetized rats fitted with abdominal heat exchangers and maintained at either normothermic (37.5 degrees C) or hypothermic (35 degrees C) body temperatures while exposed to either normoxia or hypoxia (7% O2). Hypothermia induced parallel decreases in VE and VO2, thereby maintaining VE/VO2. Hypoxia resulted in a hyperventilation achieved with the same relative decrease in VO2 and increase in VE in both normothermic and hypothermic rats. The results suggest that 1) the changes in metabolic rate and VE during hypothermia reflect a direct effect of cold and, 2) because of similar levels of hypoxic hyperventilation in the hypothermic and normothermic rats, relative to metabolic rate, respiratory gain has not been depressed in hypothermic rats.
- Copyright © 1995 the American Physiological Society