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Angiogenic/lymphangiogenic factors and adaptation to extreme altitudes during an expedition to Mount Everest

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Abstract Aim: 

To analyse the correlation between production of angiogenic [vascular endothelial growth factor A (VEGF-A) and interleukin 8 (IL-8)] and lymphangiogenic factors (VEGF-C and D) and adaptation to high altitude (>8000 m). Erythropoietin (EPO) served as a positive control. Methods: 

We analysed the percentage of oxygen saturation and the plasmatic contents of VEGF-A, C, D, IL-8 and EPO in seven mountaineers and four Sherpas during an expedition to Mount Everest. Acute mountain sickness was also evaluated using the Lake Louise score. Results: 

Whereas VEGF-A, IL-8, VEGF-C and EPO were transiently up-regulated at 5000 m and decreased at the highest altitudes, VEGF-D remained elevated throughout the ascent. Sherpas had increased basal levels of VEGF-A, C, IL-8 and EPO and up-regulation of all the tested factors when they passed the altitude at which they lived. Conclusion: 

Our data suggest that expression of angiogenic and lymphangiogenic factors is up-regulated directly or indirectly by altitude-dependent hypoxia. Both factors could be involved in a mechanism of adaptation to high altitudes.

Keywords: angiogenesis; extreme altitudes; hypoxia; lymphangiogenesis

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1:  University of Nice Sophia Antipolis, UMR CNRS 6543, Institute of Signalling, Developmental Biology and Cancer Research, Nice, France 2:  Anaesthesia Department, Saint George Clinic, Nice, France

Publication date: June 1, 2009

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