2010, Volume 6, Issue 2

Survival adaptation in Everest: metabolic response during acclimatization in lowlander and sherpa climbers

Alexander Kormanovski1, Jan Harasymowicz2

1Higher Medical School, National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City, Mexico
2Pawel Wlodkowic University College, Płock, Poland

Author for correspondence: Alexander Kormanovski; Higher Medical School, National Polytechnic Institute, Mexico City, Mexico; email: kormanovski[at]yahoo.com.mx

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Background and Study Aim: There is no comparative data on the metabolic and hematologic response in lowlander and sherpa climbers during step-by-step acclimatization to extreme altitudes. We are going to evaluate the response of sherpa and lowlander climbers in Everest base camp (BC) conditions.
Material and Methods: group 1 (12 lowlanders climbers); group 2 (6 sherpa climbers); group 3 (6 persons in BC). The laboratory was set up in BC, capillary blood samples were taken every week for two months from each participant and 24 blood parameters were measured.
Results: the group 2 had lower urea level and higher level of CK compared with group 1. Glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol profile were relatively stable in group 2. In group 1, triglycerides and total cholesterol began to decrease significantly after five weeks of acclimatization. Mg2 + increased drastically at the end of the study only in group 1, whereas Ca2+ increased drastically in week 7 in both experimental groups. The initial HCT and hemoglobin were lower in group 2. HCT increased, hemoglobin did not change and MCHC decreased in all groups. Granulocytes and platelets increased in group 2.
Conclusions: The sherpa climbers responded with lower level of protein catabolism, increased levels of CK, stable levels of energy substrates, Mg2 + and increased polycythemia.

Key words: acclimatization, blood parameters, everest, extreme altitude, sherpa climbers