Altitude exposure affects hormonal homeostasis, but the adaptation of different populations is still not finely defined. This study aims to compare the mid-term effects of combining physical activity and altitude hypoxia on hormonal profiles in foreign trekkers coming from Italy versus indigenous Nepalese porters during a Himalayan trek. Participants (6 Italians and 6 Nepalese) completed a 300 km distance in 19 days of an accumulated altitude difference of 16,000 m, with an average daily walk of 6 h. The effect of high altitude on hormonal pathways was assessed by collecting blood samples the day before the expedition and the day after its completion. Foreign trekkers had an additional follow-up sample collected after 10 days. The findings revealed a different adaptation of thyroidal and gonadal axes to mid-term strenuous physical activity combined with high-altitude hypobaric hypoxia. The thyroid function shifted to the protective mechanism of low free triiodothyronine (FT3), whereas the gonadal axis was suppressed. The Italian trekkers and Nepalese porters had lower total testosterone and 17-β-estradiol levels after the expedition. At the follow-up, the Italians had increased testosterone values. Prolactin secretion decreased in the Italians but increased in the Nepalese. We conclude that exposure to high-altitude affects the hormonal axes. The effect seems notably pronounced for the hypothalamus-pituitary gonadal axis, suppressed after high-altitude exposure.

Effects of Physical Activity at High Altitude on Hormonal Profiles in Foreign Trekkers and Indigenous Nepalese Porters

Bondi, Danilo
Secondo
;
Pietrangelo, Tiziana;Altieri, Vincenzo Maria;Verratti, Vittore
Ultimo
2021-01-01

Abstract

Altitude exposure affects hormonal homeostasis, but the adaptation of different populations is still not finely defined. This study aims to compare the mid-term effects of combining physical activity and altitude hypoxia on hormonal profiles in foreign trekkers coming from Italy versus indigenous Nepalese porters during a Himalayan trek. Participants (6 Italians and 6 Nepalese) completed a 300 km distance in 19 days of an accumulated altitude difference of 16,000 m, with an average daily walk of 6 h. The effect of high altitude on hormonal pathways was assessed by collecting blood samples the day before the expedition and the day after its completion. Foreign trekkers had an additional follow-up sample collected after 10 days. The findings revealed a different adaptation of thyroidal and gonadal axes to mid-term strenuous physical activity combined with high-altitude hypobaric hypoxia. The thyroid function shifted to the protective mechanism of low free triiodothyronine (FT3), whereas the gonadal axis was suppressed. The Italian trekkers and Nepalese porters had lower total testosterone and 17-β-estradiol levels after the expedition. At the follow-up, the Italians had increased testosterone values. Prolactin secretion decreased in the Italians but increased in the Nepalese. We conclude that exposure to high-altitude affects the hormonal axes. The effect seems notably pronounced for the hypothalamus-pituitary gonadal axis, suppressed after high-altitude exposure.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11564/754827
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