Human Adaptation to Life at High Altitude

  • Gustavo F. GonzalesEmail author
  • Dulce E. Alarcón-Yaquetto
  • Alisson Zevallos-Concha
Part of the Advances in Biochemistry in Health and Disease book series (ABHD, volume 16)


Living at high altitude (HA) represents a daily challenge that over two hundred million people worldwide have to face. Populations living at HA are distributed mainly in Asia, Africa and America and they live in these settling with different periods of antiquity and evolution. Permanent life at HA is associated with a pathology unique in these places known as chronic mountain sickness or lack of adaptation to live at HA, which is characterized by excessive erythrocytosis. It has been reported that oxidative stress is increased at people acutely and chronically exposed at HA hypoxia. This may explain some features of the adaptation of highlanders. The present review summarizes findings related to different strategies of adaptation in populations living at HA. As features of human adaptation at HA we review data related to birth weight, gestational age, preeclampsia, hemoglobin and chronic mountain sickness in populations at HA and how gene evolution drives adaptation.


High altitude Hypoxia Chronic mountain sickness Monge’s disease Himalayas Andes 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gustavo F. Gonzales
    • 1
    Email author
  • Dulce E. Alarcón-Yaquetto
    • 1
  • Alisson Zevallos-Concha
    • 1
  1. 1.Instituto de Investigaciones de la Altura, and Department of Biological and Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and PhilosophyUniversidad Peruana Cayetano HerediaDistrito de LimaPeru

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