Brain tissue pH and ventilatory acclimatization to high altitude

S. V. Goldberg, R. B. Schoene, D. Haynor, B. Trimble, E. R. Swenson, J. B. Morrison, E. J. Banister

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23 Scopus citations


31P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (31P-NMRS) was performed on brain cross sections of four human subjects before and after 7 days in a hypobaric chamber at 447 Torr to test the hypothesis that brain intracellular acidosis develops during acclimatization to high altitude and accounts for the progressively increasing ventilation that develops (ventilatory acclimatization). Arterial blood gas measurements confirmed increased ventilation. At the end of 1 wk of hypobaria, brain intracellular pH was 7.023 ± 0.046 (SD), unchanged from preexposure pH of 6.998 ± 0.029. After return to sea level, however, it decreased to 6.918 ± 0.032 at 15 min (P < 0.01) and 6.920 ± 0.046 at 12 h (P < 0.01). The ventilatory response to hypoxia increased [from 0.35 ± 0.11 (l/min)/(-%02 saturation) before exposure to 0.69 ± 0.19 after, P = 0.06]. Brain intracellular acidosis is probably not a supplemental stimulus to ventilatory acclimatization to high altitude. However, brain intracellular acidosis develops on return to normoxia from chronic hypoxia, suggesting that brain pH may follow changes in blood and cerebrospinal fluid pH as they are altered by changes in ventilation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-63
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Applied Physiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1992
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


  • P nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy
  • central chemoreceptor
  • control of ventilation
  • high altitude
  • hypercapnic ventilatory response
  • hypobaria
  • hypoxic ventilatory response
  • peripheral chemoreceptor

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