Painschab, Matthew S., Gary E. Malpartida, Victor G. Davila-Roman, Robert H. Gilman, Todd M. Kolb, Fabiola Leon-Velarde, J. Jaime Miranda, and William Checkley. Association between serum concentrations of hypoxia inducible factor responsive proteins and excessive erythrocytosis in high altitude Peru. High Alt Med Biol 16:26-33, 2015. - Long-term residence at high altitude is associated with the development of chronic mountain sickness (CMS), which is characterized by excessive erythrocytosis (EE). EE occurs under chronic hypoxia, and a strongly selected mutation in hypoxia-inducible factor 2α (HIF2A) has been found in native Tibetans that correlates with having a normal hemoglobin at high altitude. We sought to evaluate differences in plasma levels of four HIF-responsive proteins in 20 participants with EE (hemoglobin >21<g/dL in men and >19 in women) and in 20 healthy, age- and sex-matched participants without EE living at high altitude in Puno, Peru. We performed ELISA to measure plasma levels of the four HIF-responsive proteins: vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), soluble VEGF receptor 1 (sVEGF-R1), endothelin-1, and erythropoietin. As a secondary aim, we evaluated the association between HIF-responsive proteins and echocardiography-estimated pulmonary artery systolic pressure (PASP) in a subset of 26 participants. sVEGF-R1 was higher in participants with vs. without EE (mean 107<pg/mL vs. 90<pg/mL; p=0.007). Although plasma concentrations of endothelin-1, VEGF, and erythropoietin were higher in participants with vs. without EE, they did not achieve statistical significance (all p>0.25). Both sVEGF-R1 (p=0.04) and erythropoietin (p=0.04) were positively associated with PASP after adjustment for age, sex, and BMI. HIF-responsive proteins may play a pathophysiological role in altitude-related, chronic diseases but our results did not show consistent changes in all measured HIF-responsive proteins. Larger studies are needed to evaluate for additional genetic and environmental risk factors.
- chronic mountain sickness
- pulmonary hypertension