Cardiac baroreflex sensitivity and heart rate variability are lower in humans with high affinity hemoglobin compared to typical affinity hemoglobin

Wyatt W. Pruter, Stephen A. Klassen, Paolo B. Dominelli, Chad C. Wiggins, Jonathon W. Senefeld, Tuhin K. Roy, Michael J. Joyner, Sarah Baker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Humans with high O2 affinity hemoglobin (HAH) have a markedly lower partial pressure of O2 at which 50% of hemoglobin is saturated (P50 ) and a leftward shift of the oxy-hemoglobin dissociation curve. Humans with HAH have attenuated heart rate responses during both acute and chronic hypoxic exposure relative to humans with typical P50 . Despite the attenuated heart rate responses to hypoxia, there are typically no blood pressure differences found in humans with HAH relative to humans with typical P50 . Due to the blunted heart rate and normal blood pressure responses to hypoxia in humans with HAH, this study aimed to investigate the impact of HAH on cardiac autonomic function during normoxia and hypoxia. We hypothesized that humans with HAH would have lower cardiac baroreflex sensitivity (cBRS) and heart rate variability (HRV) during normoxia and hypoxia relative to individuals with typical P50. METHODS: Nine humans with a HAH mutation (6 female, Age: 40±12yrs, P50 : 16±1 mmHg) and 12 controls with typical affinity hemoglobin (6 female, Age: 40±10yrs, P50 : 26±1 mmHg) laid supine for 10-minutes prior to 20-minutes of isocapnic hypoxia, titrated to reduce arterial O2 pressure to ~50 mmHg (Avg. Fi O2 = 11.9±0.0%). Beat-to-beat arterial pressures (arterial catheter) and heart rate (electrocardiogram) were continuously recorded. Data were averaged in five-minute segments starting with the last five minutes of supine normoxic rest. Spontaneous cBRS was quantified using the sequence method. HRV was measured in time and frequency domains. Standard deviation of the RR interval (SDRR) was calculated as the standard deviation of all RR intervals in a data segment. Low frequency (LF) HRV was calculated using Fast Fourier Transformation and assessed as absolute spectral intensity in the LF band (0.04-0.15Hz). RESULTS: Arterial oxygen (Pa O2 ) and carbon dioxide (Pa CO2 ) pressures were not different between humans with HAH and controls during normoxia or isocapnic hypoxia [Pa O2 : (HAH vs. Control): 48±3 vs. 47±2 mmHg, p=0.612; Pa CO2 : (HAH vs. Control): 40±3 vs. 39±1 mmHg, p=0.328] exposure. cBRS was lower in humans with HAH compared to controls in normoxia and throughout isocapnic hypoxia [normoxia (HAH vs. Control): 7±4 vs. 16±10 ms/mmHg; hypoxia minutes 15-20 (HAH vs. Control): 4±3 vs. 14±11 ms/mmHg; Hb type, p=0.024]. Several metrics of HRV were lower in humans with HAH relative to control (SDRR: Hb type, p≤0.001; LF: Hb type, p=0.030) and HRV was blunted to a similar extent in both groups with hypoxia (SDRR: time effect, p=0.009). CONCLUSION: The findings of this study are twofold. Compared to controls, humans with HAH have: 1) attenuated cardiac baroreflex sensitivity and 2) lower heart rate variability in both normoxia and isocapnic hypoxia.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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