1. Twelve healthy young men took part in this investigation of the effect of oral theophylline and dipyridamole (two drugs known to affect the pharmacological effects of the purine nucleoside adenosine) on the respiratory response to isocapnic hypoxia.
2. The subjects underwent hypoxic rebreathing manoeuvres after 3-day pretreatments with each of the drugs for 12 h and were at least 2 h postprandial. For each in-Minute ventilation, the maximum rate of isometric inspiratory pressure development at the mouth and the ratio of inspiratory duration to total breath duration were analysed breath-by-breath and regressions of these variables upon the haemoglobin oxygen saturation were performed.
3. The slopes and intercepts of the lines describing the relationships of minute ventilation and the maximum rate of isometric inspiratory pressure development at the mouth with haemoglobin oxygen saturation were unaffected by the study drugs, and no differences in the pattern of breathing were observed.
4. We conclude that oral administration of these drugs does not result in alteration of the response of the respiratory system to progressive isocapnic hypoxia.
5. This suggests that either adenosine has no physiological role in hypoxic respiratory control as measured, or that it has opposing peripheral chemoreceptor and central respiratory centre effects which could not be distinguished by the techniques used.