Near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) shows two types of tissue blood volume (BV) parameters: the total hemoglobin concentration (cHb; assessed by continuous-wave NIRS) and the normalized tissue hemoglobin index (nTHI; evaluated by spatially resolved NIRS). This study was performed to investigate the differences between cHb and nTHI, estimated by calibration using acute reduction of BV at the onset of exercise. Seven active male volunteers (age: 22 ± 4 years) performed a prolonged (60-min) cycling exercise test at 65% or 70% of the peak oxygen uptake. During the tests, cHb and nTHI from the vastus lateralis muscle were monitored. The two parameters were expressed relative to the resting value of 100% and the minimum value of 0% at the onset of exercise. The value of cHb started to increase after arriving at the minimum value and continued until the end of exercise. Similar to cHb, nTHI increased acutely from the lowest level, but the parameter remained almost unchanged from ~5 min throughout the test. Therefore, the two parameters interacted significantly. Moreover, in comparison with the same exercise duration, cHb was significantly higher than nTHI from the 28th min to the end of the test. These results suggest that cHb and nTHI in working muscle are not synchronized during prolonged exercise, especially after ~30 min. The differences between the two BV parameters are likely partly attributable to other factors, such as the increase in skin blood flow.
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