Clinical Autonomic Research

, 16:40 | Cite as

Plasma catecholamines and blood volume in native Andeans during hypoxia and normoxia

  • Alfredo Gamboa
  • Jorge L. Gamboa
  • Courtney Holmes
  • Yehonatan Sharabi
  • Fabiola Leon-Velarde
  • Gary J. Fischman
  • Otto Appenzeller
  • David S. Goldstein


Plasma catechols and blood volume were measured in 20 male, native high-altitude residents of Cerro de Pasco, Peru (4338 m), while hypoxic and subsequently while normoxic at sea level. Ten subjects were healthy controls,with hematocrits lower than 61%, and ten had chronic mountain sickness (CMS), a syndrome of maladaptation to altitude, characterized by polycythemia (hematocrit > 61%), profound hypoxemia, and neurologic symptoms. The main aim of the study was to evaluate the chronic effects of hypoxia on plasma catechols and on blood volume, by studying these parameters during hypoxia at high altitude (HA) and shortly after exposure to normoxia at sea level (SL). Subjects were first studied at HA in their habitual hypoxic environment, and measurements were repeated within 4 hours of arrival at SL (Lima, Peru, 150 m). All subjects had higher plasma norepinephrine (NE), dopamine (DA), and dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG) levels in HA (NE in controls and CMS: 414±47 and 514±35 pg/mL; DA: 9±1 and 13±1 pg/mL, DHPG: 817±48 and 972±77 pg/mL) than at SL (NE: 164±9 and 243±28 pg/mL; DA: 4±0.5 and 5±1 pg/mL DHPG: 502±23 and 649±39 pg/mL). Group differences were statistically significant only for NE in the CMS group. Plasma volume was higher in HA in both groups (p<0.05); red cell volume was higher in HA only in the CMS group. The results indicate sympathetic nervous stimulation by chronic ambient hypoxia at altitude in Andean natives, independent of maladaptation to their native environment.

Key words

hypoxia catecholamines blood volume chronic mountain sickness 


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Copyright information

© Steinkopff-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfredo Gamboa
    • 1
  • Jorge L. Gamboa
    • 2
  • Courtney Holmes
    • 3
  • Yehonatan Sharabi
    • 3
  • Fabiola Leon-Velarde
    • 4
  • Gary J. Fischman
    • 5
  • Otto Appenzeller
    • 6
  • David S. Goldstein
    • 3
  1. 1.Clinical PharmacologyVanderbilt University Medical CenterNashville (TN) 37232USA
  2. 2.Case Western Reserve UniversityCleveland (OH)USA
  3. 3.Clinical Neurocardiology Section, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke National Institutes of HealthBethesda (MD)USA
  4. 4.Depto. De Ciencias Biologicas y Fisiologicas/IIAUniversidad Peruana Cayetano HerediaLimaPeru
  5. 5.Daxor CorporationNew York (NY)USA
  6. 6.New Mexico Health Enhancement and Marathon Clinics Research FoundationAlbuquerque (NM)USA

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