Vascular endothelial growth factor in exercising humans under different environmental conditions

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It was the aim of this study to investigate the time course of changes in the serum concentrations of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) during a regular survival training programme combined with food and fluid deprivation and during a high altitude marathon run. We studied soldiers of the Austrian Special Forces performing survival training at sea-level and marathon runners of the Posta Atletica who crossed the border between Chile and Argentina at altitudes up to 4722 m. Baseline data collected before the 1-week of survival training showed that the soldiers had normal VEGF [n=8, 246.7 (SD 118.5) pg · ml−1] serum concentrations which remained unchanged during the course of the study. Before the high altitude marathon the subjects showed normal VEGF serum concentrations [178 (SD 84.5) pg · ml−1]. After the run VEGF concentrations were found to be significantly decreased [41.0 (SD 41.6) pg · ml−1, P < 0.01]. It was concluded that prolonged physical stress during normobaric-normoxia did not alter the VEGF concentrations whereas during severe hypobaric-hypoxia decreased VEGF serum concentrations were measured, at least temporarily, after prolonged physical exercise which might have been due to changes in production, release, removal and/or binding of circulating VEGF.

Accepted: 7 December 1998