Malaspina collaborates with U. of A. on muscle oxygenation research

February 4, 1997 - 4:00pm

Dr. Yagesh Bhambhani from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta was at Malaspina University-College recently.

Bhambhani, along with his Doctoral student Shelley Buckley, collaborated with Dr. Neary of Malaspina's physical education department to examine the effects of exercise on muscle oxygenation concentration in both elite Nanaimo cyclists and a group of chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia patients.

Bhambhani used a non-invasive technique called near infrared (NIR) spectroscope to examine how much oxygen is bound to haemoglobin (a protein found in the blood) and myoglobin (a protein found in the muscle).

Neary explained that haemoglobin and myoglobin are responsible for carrying oxygen in the body. When oxygen becomes bound to these proteins, it is a process called saturation. During exercise, the haemoglobin in the blood picks up oxygen from the lungs and takes it to the muscles where it can then be used in a chemical process to make energy.

The NIR spectroscope, which is approximately the size of a computer "mouse" is taped to the thigh, allows the scientists to determine the amount of saturation or desaturation (the amount of unbound oxygen to haemoglobin) without having to use needles or other invasive equipment.

Previous research has proposed that in fatigue syndrome patients such as chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, there may be a difficulty in getting sufficient quantities of oxygen to the working muscle(s).

According to Neary this technology is relative new, (only about 6 other laboratories in the world are using this equipment), and Bhambhani said that to his knowledge this has not been used on fatigue syndrome patients," Bhambhani said.

"Our preliminary data has not been analysed yet but if all goes well it may provide a diagnostic tool for these patients and possibly others with similar health conditions."

The NIR spectroscopy was also performed on a group of local Nanaimo cyclists to examine desaturation levels occurring in the thigh muscles during maximal levels of exercise.

"The preliminary data from this study has shown that the subjects with higher fitness had a greater desaturation and better recovery from exercise," said Neary.

"The practical implication of these studies is that they may give us clues on how oxygen is getting into the muscle under different conditions, such as normal and diseased muscle states. If there is a change in desaturation, then we can examine why this may be happening," he said.

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