Ryan L. Hoiland, Kurt Jason Smith, Howard H Carter, Nia C S Lewis, Michael M. Tymko, Kevin W Wildfong, Anthony R Bain, Daniel J Green, Philip N. Ainslie

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Evidence for shear stress as a regulator of carotid artery dilation in response to increased arterial carbon dioxide was recently demonstrated in humans during sustained elevations in CO2 (hypercapnia); however, the relative contributions of CO2 and shear stress to this response remains unclear. We examined the hypothesis that, following a 30-second transient increase in arterial CO2 tension and consequent increase in internal carotid artery shear stress, internal carotid artery diameter would increase, indicating shear-mediated dilation, in the absence of concurrent hypercapnia. In 27 healthy participants the partial pressures of end-tidal O2 and CO2, ventilation (pneumotachography), blood pressure (finger-photoplethysmography), heart-rate (electrocardiogram), internal carotid artery flow, diameter and shear stress (high resolution duplex ultrasound) and middle cerebral artery blood velocity (transcranial Doppler) were measured during 4-minute steady state and transient 30-second hypercapnic tests (both +9mmHg CO2). Internal carotid artery dilation was lower in the transient, compared to the steady state hypercapnia (3.3±1.9% vs. 5.3±2.9%, respectively; P<0.03). Increases in internal carotid artery shear stress preceded increases in diameter in both the transient (time: 16.8±13.2s vs. 59.4±60.3s; P<0.01) and steady state (time: 18.2±14.2s vs. 110.3±79.6s; P<0.01) tests. Internal carotid artery dilation was positively correlated with shear rate area under the curve in the transient (r(2)=0.44; P<0.01), but not steady state (r(2)=0.02; P=0.53) trial. Collectively, these results suggest that hypercapnia induces shear-mediated dilation of the internal carotid artery in humans. This study further promotes the application and development of hypercapnia as a clinical strategy for the assessment of cerebrovascular vasodilatory function and health in humans.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberajpheart.00119.2017
Pages (from-to)H24-H31
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology: Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


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