The relationship between hemoglobin and V˙O2max: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Kevin L Webb, Ellen K Gorman, Olaf H Morkeberg, Stephen A Klassen, Riley J Regimbal, Chad C Wiggins, Michael J Joyner, Shane M Hammer, Jonathon W Senefeld

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Objective There is widespread agreement about the key role of hemoglobin for oxygen transport. Both observational and interventional studies have examined the relationship between hemoglobin levels and maximal oxygen uptake (V O2max) in humans. However, there exists considerable variability in the scientific literature regarding the potential relationship between hemoglobin and V O2max. Thus, we aimed to provide a comprehensive analysis of the diverse literature and examine the relationship between hemoglobin levels (hemoglobin concentration and mass) and V O2max (absolute and relative V O2max) among both observational and interventional studies. Methods A systematic search was performed on December 6th, 2021. The study procedures and reporting of findings followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta- Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines. Article selection and data abstraction were performed in duplicate by two independent reviewers. Primary outcomes were hemoglobin levels and V O2max values (absolute and relative). For observational studies, meta-regression models were performed to examine the relationship between hemoglobin levels and V O2max values. For interventional studies, meta-analysis models were performed to determine the change in V O2max values (standard paired difference) associated with interventions designed to modify hemoglobin levels or V O2max. Meta-regression models were then performed to determine the relationship between a change in hemoglobin levels and the change in V O2max values. Results Data from 384 studies (226 observational studies and 158 interventional studies) were examined. For observational data, there was a positive association between absolute V O2max and hemoglobin levels (hemoglobin concentration, hemoglobin mass, and hematocrit (P<0.001 for all)). Prespecified subgroup analyses demonstrated no apparent sexrelated differences among these relationships. For interventional data, there was a positive association between the change of absolute V O2max (standard paired difference) and the change in hemoglobin levels (hemoglobin concentration (P<0.0001) and hemoglobin mass (P = 0.006)). Conclusion These findings suggest that V O2max values are closely associated with hemoglobin levels among both observational and interventional studies. Although our findings suggest a lack of sex differences in these relationships, there were limited studies incorporating females or stratifying results by biological sex.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0292835
Pages (from-to)e0292835
JournalPloS one
Volume18
Issue number10 October
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 12 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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