Pulmonary-artery pressure and exhaled nitric oxide in bolivian and caucasian high altitude dwellers

Marcos Schwab, Pierre Yves Jayet, Thomas Stuber, Carlos E. Salinas, Jonathan Bloch, Hilde Spielvogel, Mercedes Villena, Yves Allemann, Claudio Sartori, Urs Scherrer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


There is evidence that high altitude populations may be better protected from hypoxic pulmonary hypertension than low altitude natives, but the underlying mechanism is incompletely understood. In Tibetans, increased pulmonary respiratory NO synthesis attenuates hypoxic pulmonary hypertension. It has been speculated that this mechanism may represent a generalized high altitude adaptation pattern, but direct evidence for this speculation is lacking. We therefore measured systolic pulmonary-artery pressure (Doppler echocardiography) and exhaled nitric oxide (NO) in 34 healthy, middle-aged Bolivian high altitude natives and in 34 age- and sex-matched, well-acclimatized Caucasian low altitude natives living at high altitude (3600 m). The mean ± SD systolic right ventricular to right atrial pressure gradient (24.3 ± 5.9 vs. 24.7 ± 4.9 mmHg) and exhaled NO (19.2 ± 7.2 vs. 22.5 ± 9.5 ppb) were similar in Bolivians and Caucasians. There was no relationship between pulmonary-artery pressure and respiratory NO in the two groups. These findings provide no evidence that Bolivian high altitude natives are better protected from hypoxic pulmonary hypertension than Caucasian low altitude natives and suggest that attenuation of pulmonary hypertension by increased respiratory NO synthesis may not represent a universal adaptation pattern in highaltitude populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)295-299
Number of pages5
JournalHigh Altitude Medicine and Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Altitude
  • Nitric oxide
  • Pulmonary hypoxic vasoconstriction


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