Dehydration hastens the decline in cerebral blood flow (CBF) during incremental exercise, while the cerebral metabolic rate for oxygen (CMRO2) is preserved. It remains unknown whether CMRO2 is also maintained during prolonged exercise in the heat and whether an eventual decline in CBF is coupled to fatigue. Two studies were undertaken. In study 1, ten male cyclists cycled in the heat for ~2 h with (control) and without fluid replacement (dehydration) while internal (ICA) and external (ECA) carotid artery blood flow and core and blood temperature were obtained. Arterial and internal jugular venous blood samples were assessed with dehydration to evaluate the CMRO2. In study 2 (8 males), middle cerebral artery blood velocity (MCA Vmean) was measured during prolonged exercise to exhaustion in both dehydrated and euhydrated states. After a rise at the onset of exercise, ICA flow declined to baseline with progressive dehydration (P < 0.05). However, cerebral metabolism remained stable through enhanced oxygen and glucose extraction (P < 0.05). ECA flow increased for one hour but declined prior to exhaustion. Fluid ingestion maintained cerebral and extra-cranial perfusion throughout non-fatiguing exercise. During exhaustive exercise, however, euhydration delayed but did not prevent the decline in cerebral perfusion. In conclusion, during prolonged exercise in the heat dehydration accelerates the decline in CBF without affecting CMRO2 and also restricts extra-cranial perfusion. Thus fatigue is related to reduction in CBF and extra-cranial perfusion rather than in CMRO2.
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