Similar hypoxic ventilatory responses in sea-level natives and high-altitude Andean natives living at sea level.
Vargas M., León-Velarde F., Monge-C C., Palacios JA., Robbins PA.
High-altitude (HA) natives have blunted ventilatory sensitivities to hypoxia, and it is uncertain whether this blunting is reversible on migration to sea level (SL). To study this, the ventilatory sensitivities to hypoxia of HA natives residing near SL were compared with those of SL natives. Two studies were performed. In study A, 24 HA subjects who had lived above 3,000 m for an average of 14 yr and had been resident at SL for an average of 23 yr were compared with 23 SL controls. In study B, 25 HA subjects who had lived above 3,500 m for at least 20 yr and had been resident at SL for no more than 5 yr were compared with 25 SL controls. Hypoxic sensitivities were assessed by breathing seven progressively more hypoxic gas mixtures that contained progressively more CO2 in an attempt to maintain isocapnia throughout. The ventilatory sensitivities to hypoxia (l . min-1 . %-1 . m-2) did not differ significantly (by analysis of variance) between HA and SL natives in either study A (-0.51 +/- 0.25, mean +/- SD) or study B (-0.34 +/- 0. 15), but the ventilatory sensitivities did differ significantly between the two studies for reasons which are not entirely clear. We conclude that HA natives residing at SL, even if previously at HA for >20 yr, do not maintain the severely blunted hypoxic responses that have been reported in such individuals.