High altitude and oxidative stress

Agoston Dosek, Hideko Ohno, Zoltan Acs, Albert W. Taylor, Zsolt Radak*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

196 Citations (Scopus)


Exposure to high altitude, which is associated with decreased oxygen pressure, could result in oxidative/reductive stress, enhanced generation of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species (RONS), and related oxidative damage to lipids, proteins, and DNA. The severity of oxidative challenge is related to the degree of altitude. A wide range of RONS generating systems are activated during exposure to high altitude, including the mitochondrial electron transport chain, xanthine oxidase, and nitric oxide synthase. High altitude appears to weaken the enzymatic and non-enzymatic antioxidant systems, and increased nutritional uptake of antioxidant vitamins are beneficial to reduce the altitude-induced oxidative damage. The pattern of high altitude exposure-associated oxidative damage resembles ischemia/reperfusion injury. The adaptive process to this oxidative challenge requires a relatively long period of time. Physical exercise or an enhanced level of physical activity at high altitude, exacerbates the extent of the oxidative challenge. Therefore, special attention is necessary to curb the degree of oxidative stress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-131
Number of pages4
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 2007 Sept 30
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute mountain sickness
  • Antioxidants
  • High altitude
  • Oxidative damage
  • Oxidative stress
  • Reactive oxygen and nitrogen species

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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