American Physiological Society
Journal of Applied Physiology
Our purpose in this study was to identify different ventilatory phenotypes among four different strains of rats. We examined 114 rats from three in-house, inbred strains and one outbred strain: Brown Norway (BN;n = 26), Dahl salt-sensitive (n = 24), Fawn-hooded Hypertensive (FHH: n = 27), and outbred Sprague-Dawley rats (SD; n = 37). We measured eupneic (room air) breathing and the ventilatory responses to hypoxia (12% O2-88% N2), hypercapnia (7% CO2), and two levels of submaximal exercise. Primary strain differences were between BN and the other strains. BN rats had a relatively attenuated ventilatory response to CO2 (P < 0.001), an accentuated ventilatory response to exercise (P < 0.05), and an accentuated ventilatory roll-off during hypoxia (P < 0.05). Ventilation during hypoxia was lower than other strains, but hyperventilation during hypoxia was equal to the other strains (P > 0.05), indicating that the metabolic rate during hypoxia decreased more in BN rats than in other strains. Another strain difference was in the frequency and timing components of augmented breaths, where FHH rats frequently differed from the other strains, and the BN rats had the longest expiratory time of the augmented breaths (probably secondary to the blunted CO2 sensitivity). These strain differences not only provide insight into physiological mechanisms but also indicate traits (such as CO2 sensitivity) that are genetically regulated. Finally, the data establish a foundation for physiological genomic studies aimed at elucidating the genetics of these ventilatory control mechanisms.