BACKGROUND: Mild hypercapnia combined with a cephalad fluid shift [e.g., that occurring during spaceflight or laparoscopic surgery with head-down tilt (HDT)] might affect cerebral autoregulation. However, no reports have described the effects of the combination on dynamic cerebral autoregulation. Therefore, we tested the hypothesis that the combination of mild hypercapnia and a cephalad fluid shift would attenuate dynamic cerebral autoregulation. METHODS: There were 15 healthy male volunteers who were exposed to 4 10-min protocols in which they received air in the supine position (Placebo/Supine), 3% carbon dioxide (CO2) in the supine position (CO2/Supine), air with 210° HDT (Placebo/ HDT) and 3% CO2 with 210° HDT (CO2/HDT). Dynamic cerebral autoregulation was evaluated using a transfer function analysis of the beat-to-beat variability in mean arterial blood pressure (ABP) and mean cerebral blood flow (CBF) velocity. RESULTS: The phase in the low-frequency range was significantly lower during CO2/HDT than all other protocols, where CO2/HDT was 225% lower than Placebo/Supine (CO2/HDT, 0.49 ± 0.21; Placebo/Supine, 0.65 ± 0.16 radians). The transfer function gain in the low-frequency range was significantly higher during CO2/HDT than all other protocols, where CO2/ HDT was 26% higher than Placebo/Supine (CO2/HDT, 1.08 ± 0.34; Placebo/Supine, 0.86 ± 0.28 cm · s-1 · mmHg-1). However, neither the CO2/Supine nor Placebo/HDT showed significant differences compared with the Placebo/Supine. DISCUSSION: Even short-term exposure to 3% CO2 plus HDT increased synchrony and the magnitude of transmission between ABP and CBF in the low-frequency range. Thus, the combination of mild hypercapnia and a cephalad fluid shift attenuated dynamic cerebral autoregulation.
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