Alveolar to arterial gas exchange during constant-load exercise in healthy active men and women

Jesse C. Schwartz, Eric M. Snyder, Thomas P. Olson, Bruce D. Johnson, Courtney M. Wheatley-Guy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inadequate hyperventilation and inefficient alveolar to arterial gas exchange are gas exchange challenges that can limit capacity and cause exercise-induced arterial hypoxaemia (EIAH). This work evaluated if the prevalence of gas exchange inefficiencies, defined as AaDO2>25 mmHg, PaCO2>38 mmHg, and/or ΔPaO2>-10 mmHg at any point during constant-load exercise in healthy, active, but not highly trained, individuals suggested an innate sex difference that would make females more susceptible to EIAH. Sixty-four healthy, active males and females completed 18-min of cycling exercise (moderate and vigorous intensity, 9 min/stage). Arterial blood gases were measured at rest and every 3-min during exercise, while constantly assessing gas exchange. Both sexes demonstrated similar levels of AaDO2 widening until the final 3 min of vigorous exercise, where females demonstrated a trend for greater widening than males (16.3±6.2 mmHg vs. 19.1±6.0 mmHg, p=0.07). Males demonstrated a blunted ventilatory response to moderate exercise with higher PaCO2 (38.5±2.6 vs. 36.5±2.4, p=0.002) and a lower ventilation when corrected for workload (0.42±0.1 vs. 0.48±0.1, p=0.002). No significant arterial hypoxaemia occurred, but in 6 M and 5 F SaO2 dropped by ≥2%. There was no difference in prevalence of pulmonary gas exchange inefficiencies between sexes, but the type of inefficiency was influenced by sex. Abbreviations: AaDO2: alveolar-arterial oxygen difference; BP: blood pressure; EIAH: exercise-induced arterial hypoxaemia; F: females; HR: heart rate; M: males; Q: cardiac output; PaCO2: arterial partial pressure of carbon dioxide; PaO2: arterial partial pressure of oxygen; ΔPaO2: change in arterial partial pressure of oxygen; PAO2: alveolar partial pressure of oxygen; RPE: rating of perceived exertion; SaO2: arterial oxygen saturation; VE: ventilation; VE/VCO2: ventilatory equivalent for carbon dioxide; VO2PEAK: peak oxygen consumption; WMAX: workload maximum.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)961-968
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Sports Sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - 2021


  • AaDO
  • PaO
  • Sex
  • cycling
  • exercise-induce arterial hypoxaemia
  • submaximal exercise

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation


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