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Oxidative stress at high altitude: genotype–phenotype correlations

Authors Pandey P, Pasha MA

Received 27 December 2013

Accepted for publication 11 February 2014

Published 7 May 2014 Volume 2014:4 Pages 29—43


Checked for plagiarism Yes

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Peer reviewer comments 4

Priyanka Pandey,1,2 MA Qadar Pasha1,2

1CSIR-Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi, India; 2Department of Biotechnology, University of Pune, Ganeshkhind, Pune, India

Abstract: It has been well-documented that the hypobaric hypoxic environment at high altitude (HA) causes stress to both the permanent residents of HA and the sojourners. This oxidative stress primarily disturbs the oxygen-sensing and vascular homeostasis pathways, thereby upsetting normal human physiology, especially in sojourners. These environmental challenges have caused dynamic evolutionary changes within natives of HA, allowing them to develop adaptive plasticity. This review focuses on the genomic and biochemical features of the molecules involved in the oxygen-sensing and vascular homeostasis pathways with respect to HA pulmonary edema (HAPE) and adaptation. We review the role of genetic markers such as HIF-prolyl hydroxylase 2, endothelial PAS domain-containing protein 1, endothelial nitric oxide synthase, endothelin 1, cytochrome b-245 alpha polypeptide, and glutathione S-transferase pi 1, as well as three circulatory biomarkers (nitric oxide, endothelin 1, and 8-iso-prostaglandin F2α), by highlighting approaches such as candidate gene and genome-wide, adopted in deciphering the pathways. A disagreement between the two approaches has also been highlighted. In addition, we discuss that an overrepresentation of wild-type alleles in HA natives and mutant alleles of same polymorphisms in HAPE patients implies that the allelic variants at the same locus are involved in adaptation and HAPE, respectively. Moreover, healthy sojourners present a number of genomic features similar to HA natives, further strengthening the concept of genetic predisposition. A trend in correlation between protective and risk alleles and altered levels of circulatory markers clearly documents the phenomenon of genotype–phenotype correlations. We conclude that the genetic and biochemical markers discussed here both could prove to be potential targets for future diagnostic and therapeutic interventions.

Keywords: high altitude, oxidative stress, pulmonary edema, sojourners, natives

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