It was hypothesized that subjects with metabolic syndrome (hypertension, obesity, hyperlipidemia, diabetes mellitus): (1) develop measurable peripheral edema at moderate altitude and (2) might show differences on erythropoiesis, iron status and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in comparison to healthy subjects during and after a long-term stay (3-week exposure) at moderate altitude (≅1700 m). Twenty-two male subjects with metabolic syndrome were selected. Baseline investigations (t1) were performed in Innsbruck (500 m). All participants were transferred by bus to 1700 m (Alps) and remained there for 3 weeks with examinations on day 1 (after the first night at altitude, t2), day 4 (t3), day 9 (t4) and day 19 (t5). After returning to Innsbruck, post-altitude examinations were conducted after 7-10 days (t6) and 6-7 weeks (t7), respectively. Body mass was decreased from t1 to t7 (P < 0.01). Total body water was decreased at t2 (P < 0.01), returned to control level (t3, t4), and was found elevated at t7 (P < 0.01). Lean body mass did not change, but body fat decreased during the study (P < 0.01). Tissue thickness at the forehead decreased during and after altitude exposure (P < 0.01), whereas tissue thickness at the tibia did not alter. Erythropoietin (EPO) was elevated as early as t2 and remained increased until t5. Reticulocyte count was increased at t3 and remained above pre-altitude values. VEGF levels were unchanged. After a 3-week exposure to moderate altitude, patients with metabolic syndrome had reduced their body mass, mainly because of a reduction in body fat. The moderate altitude was found to stimulate erythropoiesis in these patients but this was not sufficient to increase serum VEGF concentration.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)