King of the {Mountains}: {Tibetan} and {Sherpa} {Physiological} {Adaptations} for {Life} at {High} {Altitude}

Citation:
Gilbert-Kawai, Edward T., James S. Milledge, Michael P. W. Grocott, and Daniel S. Martin. "King of the {Mountains}: {Tibetan} and {Sherpa} {Physiological} {Adaptations} for {Life} at {High} {Altitude}." Physiology. 29 (2014): 388-402.

Abstract:

Anecdotal evidence surrounding Tibetans' and Sherpas' exceptional tolerance to hypobaric hypoxia has been recorded since the beginning of high-altitude exploration. These populations have successfully lived and reproduced at high altitude for hundreds of generations with hypoxia as a constant evolutionary pressure. Consequently, they are likely to have undergone natural selection toward a genotype (and phenotype) tending to offer beneficial adaptation to sustained hypoxia. With the advent of translational human hypoxic research, in which genotype/phenotype studies of healthy individuals at high altitude may be of benefit to hypoxemic critically ill patients in a hospital setting, high-altitude natives may provide a valuable and intriguing model. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive summary of the scientific literature encompassing Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations to a high-altitude residence. The review demonstrates the extent to which evolutionary pressure has refined the physiology of this high-altitude population. Furthermore, although many physiological differences between highlanders and lowlanders have been found, it also suggests many more potential avenues of investigation.

Notes:

00001 Anecdotal evidence surrounding Tibetans' and Sherpas' exceptional tolerance to hypobaric hypoxia has been recorded since the beginning of high-altitude exploration. These populations have successfully lived and reproduced at high altitude for hundreds of generations with hypoxia as a constant evolutionary pressure. Consequently, they are likely to have undergone natural selection toward a genotype (and phenotype) tending to offer beneficial adaptation to sustained hypoxia. With the advent of translational human hypoxic research, in which genotype/phenotype studies of healthy individuals at high altitude may be of benefit to hypoxemic critically ill patients in a hospital setting, high-altitude natives may provide a valuable and intriguing model. The aim of this review is to provide a comprehensive summary of the scientific literature encompassing Tibetan and Sherpa physiological adaptations to a high-altitude residence. The review demonstrates the extent to which evolutionary pressure has refined the physiology of this high-altitude population. Furthermore, although many physiological differences between highlanders and lowlanders have been found, it also suggests many more potential avenues of investigation.

Website

UoN Websites Search