Acute hypoxia decreases plasma VEGF concentration in healthy humans

Kerstin M. Oltmanns*, Hartmut Gehring, Sebastian Rudolf, Bernd Schultes, Claudia Hackenberg, Ulrich Schweiger, Jan Born, Horst L. Fehm, Achim Peters

*Corresponding author for this work
31 Citations (Scopus)


Vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is known to be upregulated by hypoxia in vitro. However, in vivo data about VEGF regulation in chronic hypoxic diseases are conflicting. We investigated the effects of hypoxia on plasma VEGF concentration in healthy subjects. To control known confounders, such as insulin, glucose concentrations, or exercise, hypoxic effects on VEGF were studied during experimentally clamping glucose concentrations at rest. In a double-blind crossover study design, we induced hypoxia for 30 min by decreasing oxygen saturation to 75% (vs. normoxic control) in 14 healthy men. Plasma VEGF concentration was determined at baseline, immediately after hypoxia had ended, and after a further 150 min. Levels of its soluble (s)Flt-1 receptor were assessed at baseline and at the end of the clamp. In parallel, catecholamine and cortisol levels were monitored. To investigate potential effects of glucose administration on the release of VEGF, we performed a third session, reducing glucose infusion for 30 min while serum insulin was held stable thereby inducing hypoglycemia. Hypoxia decreased VEGF levels compared with the normoxic control (P < 0.05). VEGF concentrations increased during hypoglycemia (P < 0.02) but were comparable to the normoglycemic control at the end of the clamp (P > 0.80). sFlt-1 receptor concentration remained unchanged during hypoxia and hypoglycemia compared with control (both P > 0.4). Epinephrine concentration (P > 0.01) increased upon hypoxia, whereas norepinephrine and cortisol did not change. Contrary to in vitro studies, in healthy humans hypoxia decreases plasma VEGF concentration, suggesting that systemic VEGF concentration may be differently regulated than the expression on cellular basis.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)E434-E439
Publication statusPublished - 03.2006

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)


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