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The mechanism of the peripheral vasodilatation following carbon dioxide inhalation in man


, : The mechanism of the peripheral vasodilatation following carbon dioxide inhalation in man. Clin Sci [london] 19(3): 407-423

A vasodilatation occurs in the forearms following inhalation of CO in concentrations varying from 5-30% for periods ranging from 1-20 minutes. A similar response occurs in the hand suggesting that the vasodilatation occurs in both skin and muscle. If the CO2 concentration in the inspired gas is lowered gradually and not abruptly, the vasodilatation is greatly reduced or abolished. Nerve-block alters the pattern of the vasodilatation but does not greatly affect its volume. A similar change in the pattern of the vasodilatation following CO2 inhalation is produced by the application of local heat to the forearm. Arrest of the circulation to the forearm during the period of CO2 inhalation greatly reduces or abolishes the vasodilatation. This indicates that the vasodilatation is due to a vasodilator substance which arrives in the forearm during inhalation and manifests its presence after inhalation. During CO2 inhalation the CO2 content of brachial arterial blood rises substantially above that of forearm venous blood which is relatively little changed. After inhalation the CO2 content of arterial blood rapidly falls to or below the resting level, whereas that of venous blood increases. These results indicate that CO2 is retained in the tissues at a time when the CO2 content of arterial blood has returned to normal. The results in general support the hypothesis that the vasodilatation following CO2 inhalation is mainly due to the local persistence of CO2 in the tissues acting as a vasodilator agent at a time when the central vasoconstrictor activity of CO2 has ceased.

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