Revista Peruana de Medicina Experimental y Salud Pública
Print version ISSN 1726-4634
GONZALES, Gustavo F.. Hemoglobin and testosterone: importance on high altitude acclimatization and adaptation. Rev Peru Med Exp Salud Publica [online]. 2011, vol.28, n.1, pp.92-100. ISSN 1726-4634. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1726-46342011000100015.
The different types of response mechanisms that the organism uses when exposed to hypoxia include accommodation, acclimatization and adaptation. Accommodation is the initial response to acute exposure to high altitude hypoxia and is characterized by an increase in ventilation and heart rate. Acclimatization is observed in individuals temporarily exposed to high altitude, and to some extent, it enables them to tolerate the high altitudes. In this phase, erythropoiesis is increased, resulting in higher hemoglobin and hematocrit levels to improve oxygen delivery capacity. Adaptation is the process of natural acclimatization where genetical variations and acclimatization play a role in allowing subjects to live without any difficulties at high altitudes. Testosterone is a hormone that regulates erythropoiesis and ventilation and could be associated to the processes of acclimatization and adaptation to high altitude. Excessive erythrocytosis, which leads to chronic mountain sickness, is caused by low arterial oxygen saturation, ventilatory inefficiency and reduced ventilatory response to hypoxia. Testosterone increases during acute exposure to high altitude and also in natives at high altitude with excessive erythrocytosis. Results of current research allow us to conclude that increase in serum testosterone and hemoglobin is adequate for acclimatization, as they improve oxygen transport, but not for high altitude adaptation, since high serum testosterone levels are associated to excessive erythrocytosis.
Keywords : Testosterone; Erythropoiesis; Altitude; Acclimatization; Physiological Adaptation.