Circulating endothelial cell number and viability are reduced by exposure to high altitude

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High altitude and hypoxia are known to induce polycythemia, pulmonary hypertension, and vascular remodeling. The authors investigated a number of blood cell populations in 15 mountain trekkers before and after 12 days spent at >3000 m. Red blood cell and platelet count increased, whereas circulating hematopoietic stem cell (enumerated as CD34bright cells), circulating endothelial cell (CEC) and circulating endothelial progenitor (CEP) count significantly decreased. In particular, the authors observed a decrease in the count of viable CECs, and a decrease in the circulating levels of RNA of the endothelial-specific gene VE-cadherin, whereas the fraction of apoptotic/necrotic CECs was stable. These data suggest a unique pattern of modulation of surrogate markers of vascular remodeling induced by exposure to hypobaric hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-58
Number of pages6
JournalEndothelium: Journal of Endothelial Cell Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2008


  • Circulating Endothelial Cells
  • Circulating Endothelial Progenitors
  • Hematopoietic Progenitors
  • Hypoxia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Physiology


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