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King of the mountains: Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations for life at high altitude

King of the mountains: Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations for life at high altitude
King of the mountains: Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations for life at high altitude
Anecdotal evidence surrounding Tibetans' and Sherpas' exceptional tolerance to hypobaric hypoxia has been recorded since the beginning of high-altitude exploration. These populations have successfully lived and reproduced at high altitude for hundreds of generations with hypoxia as a constant evolutionary pressure. Consequently, they are likely to have undergone natural selection toward a genotype (and phenotype) tending to offer beneficial adaptation to sustained hypoxia. With the advent of translational human hypoxic research, in which genotype/phenotype studies of healthy individuals at high altitude may be of benefit to hypoxemic critically ill patients in a hospital setting, high-altitude natives may provide a valuable and intriguing model. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive summary of the scientific literature encompassing Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations to a high-altitude residence. The review demonstrates the extent to which evolutionary pressure has refined the physiology of this high-altitude population. Furthermore, although many physiological differences between highlanders and lowlanders have been found, it also suggests many more potential avenues of investigation.
1548-9213
388-402
Gilbert-Kawai, Edward T
2d1f0dd7-023f-4313-b513-0a1705daa71a
Milledge, James S
3b1820bc-e409-4022-ad25-f19573526cab
Grocott, Michael P W
fb3229a9-a771-4003-962d-4f8b94894baa
Martin, Daniel S
3e441b48-9221-4308-8ae6-49cbde20753f
Gilbert-Kawai, Edward T
2d1f0dd7-023f-4313-b513-0a1705daa71a
Milledge, James S
3b1820bc-e409-4022-ad25-f19573526cab
Grocott, Michael P W
fb3229a9-a771-4003-962d-4f8b94894baa
Martin, Daniel S
3e441b48-9221-4308-8ae6-49cbde20753f

Gilbert-Kawai, Edward T, Milledge, James S, Grocott, Michael P W and Martin, Daniel S (2014) King of the mountains: Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations for life at high altitude. Physiology (Bethesda), 29 (6), 388-402. (doi:10.1152/physiol.00018.2014). (PMID:25362633)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Anecdotal evidence surrounding Tibetans' and Sherpas' exceptional tolerance to hypobaric hypoxia has been recorded since the beginning of high-altitude exploration. These populations have successfully lived and reproduced at high altitude for hundreds of generations with hypoxia as a constant evolutionary pressure. Consequently, they are likely to have undergone natural selection toward a genotype (and phenotype) tending to offer beneficial adaptation to sustained hypoxia. With the advent of translational human hypoxic research, in which genotype/phenotype studies of healthy individuals at high altitude may be of benefit to hypoxemic critically ill patients in a hospital setting, high-altitude natives may provide a valuable and intriguing model. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive summary of the scientific literature encompassing Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations to a high-altitude residence. The review demonstrates the extent to which evolutionary pressure has refined the physiology of this high-altitude population. Furthermore, although many physiological differences between highlanders and lowlanders have been found, it also suggests many more potential avenues of investigation.

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More information

Published date: November 2014
Organisations: Clinical & Experimental Sciences

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 372851
URI: https://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/372851
ISSN: 1548-9213
PURE UUID: 21f1800f-d3a4-4c71-9741-91ad4aa4ab69

Catalogue record

Date deposited: 23 Dec 2014 12:56
Last modified: 15 Jul 2019 21:35

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