BACKGROUND: The CO2 reactivity is often used to assess vascular function, but it is still unclear whether this reactivity is affected by aging. OBJECTIVE: To investigate the effects of aging on the CO2 reactivity in ocular and cerebral vessels, both of which are highly sensitive to hypercapnia, we compared the CO2 reactivity in the retinal artery (RA), retinal and choroidal vessels (RCV), optic nerve head (ONH), and middle cerebral artery (MCA) between young and middle-aged subjects. METHODS: We measured the CO2 reactivity in 14 young and 11 middle-aged males using laser-speckle flowgraphy during a 3-min inhalation of CO2-rich air. RESULTS: The CO2 reactivity in the RA and ONH were lower in the middle-aged group than in the young group, but no significant effect of age was observed in the RCV or MCA. The CO2 reactivity in the RA and ONH were correlated significantly with age, whereas those in the RCV or MCA were not. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that there are regional differences in the effect of age on the CO2 reactivity among not only ocular and cerebral vessels, but also the retinal and choroidal vessels, even though these vessels are in neighboring areas.
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