Multi-author Review

Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 66, Issue 22, pp 3615-3623

First online:

The response of human skeletal muscle tissue to hypoxia

  • Carsten LundbyAffiliated withThe Copenhagen Muscle Research CentreDepartment of Sport Science, University of Århus Email author 
  • , Jose A. L. CalbetAffiliated withDepartment of Physical Education, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
  • , Paul RobachAffiliated withEcole Nationale de Ski et d’Alpinisme

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


Hypoxia refers to environmental or clinical settings that potentially threaten tissue oxygen homeostasis. One unique aspect of skeletal muscle is that, in addition to hypoxia, oxygen balance in this tissue may be further compromised when exercise is superimposed on hypoxia. This review focuses on the cellular and molecular responses of human skeletal muscle to acute and chronic hypoxia, with emphasis on physical exercise and training. Based on published work, it is suggested that hypoxia does not appear to promote angiogenesis or to greatly alter oxidative enzymes in skeletal muscle at rest. Although the HIF-1 pathway in skeletal muscle is still poorly documented, emerging evidence suggests that muscle HIF-1 signaling is only activated to a minor degree by hypoxia. On the other hand, combining hypoxia with exercise appears to improve some aspects of muscle O2 transport and/or metabolism.


Altitude Hypoxic Gene Protein Adaptation Expression Capillary Training