RESEARCH PAPER
The influence of 9-day trekking in the Alps on the level of oxidative stress parameters and blood parameters in native lowlanders
 
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1
Department of Hygiene, Medical University, Wroclaw, Poland
2
Department of Forensic Medicine, Medical University, Wroclaw, Poland
 
Ann Agric Environ Med. 2014;21(3):585–589
KEYWORDS
ABSTRACT
Background:
The stimuli acting on a person in a high mountain environment (such as hypobaric hypoxia with subsequent reoxygenation, physical exercise) can significantly increase oxidative stress, stimulate erythropoiesis, lead to changes in the blood count and participate in the development of altitude sickness.

Objective:
The aim was to investigate changes in haematological parameters, indicators of oxidative stress (malondialdehyde – MDA) and antioxidant defences: catalase (CAT), superoxide dismutase (SOD), and total antioxidant status (TAS) in the plasma of young, healthy people after a 9-day expedition in the Alps.

Material and Methods:
A total of 5 patients (4 men and 1 woman), members of the Wrocław Mountaineering Club, aged 24–26 years. Collection of blood samples was carried out immediately before departure and 3 days after the end of exposure to high-altitude conditions. During the expedition, the subjects were exposed to heights: 2,050–4,165 m.a.s.l., and exercise associated with climbing.

Results:
Trekking in the Alps neither caused significant changes in the parameters of red blood cells nor increased the level of oxidative stress parameters in plasma. CAT activity increased, the ratio of SOD / CAT decreased. There was also a decrease in the total number of leukocytes, mainly monocytes and basophils.

Conclusions:
9-day exposure to high-altitude conditions is not a substantial burden for the organism of young, physically active people. The increase in antioxidant capacity is sufficient to stop oxidative processes, which are severe in these conditions, and to prevent the occurrence of significant oxidative stress. Discontinuation of exposure to allergens and dust pollution clears the airways, which is indicated by the reduction in the number of monocytes and basophils.

 
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