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Oxygen transport and utilisation during exercise in cystic fibrosis: contributors to exercise intolerance

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

  • Dr Zoe Saynor
  • Mathieu Gruet
  • Paula Rodriguez‐Miguelez
  • Ryan A. Harris
Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a complex condition, commonly associated with exercise limitation. The mechanisms responsible for this in CF are of interest, given that lower aerobic fitness is associated with an increased risk of being hospitalised with pulmonary exacerbation, a poorer quality of life and prognosis. Pathophysiological changes in lung function are considered central to CF, and may contribute to exercise limitation. However, it is now clear that the pathogenesis of exercise limitation in this population is multifactorial, with alterations in cardiovascular, muscle and pulmonary function contributing. Whilst some of these changes are attributable to respiratory disease per se, the CF transmembrane conductance regulator protein is also found in skeletal muscle and the vascular endothelium and can directly alter central and localised oxygen delivery, as well as the ability to effectively extract and utilise oxygen at the myocyte level. Since intense exercise poses considerable challenges to arterial oxygen content and/or blood flow and its supply to the working skeletal muscle, evaluating the exercise physiology of people with CF has helped us understand the mechanisms underlying exercise intolerance. Through several investigations over recent years, we have collectively demonstrated that people with CF exhibit reduced skeletal muscle oxygen extraction and utilisation during exercise, with a lesser contribution from haemodynamic or chronotropic mechanisms. Taken together, our findings highlight the importance of targeting mechanisms of skeletal muscle oxygen utilisation in CF to improve exercise tolerance and we offer potential therapeutic interventional strategies.
Original languageEnglish
JournalExperimental Physiology
Early online date11 Nov 2020
Publication statusEarly online - 11 Nov 2020


  • Oxygen transport and utilisation

    Rights statement: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Saynor, ZL, Gruet, M, Rodriguez‐Miguelez, P, Harris, RA. Oxygen transport and utilisation during exercise in cystic fibrosis: contributors to exercise intolerance. Experimental Physiology. 2020; 105: 1979– 1983., which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

    Accepted author manuscript (Post-print), 909 KB, PDF document

    Due to publisher’s copyright restrictions, this document is not freely available to download from this website until: 11/11/21

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