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J Physiol Sci. 2013 May;63(3):183-93. doi: 10.1007/s12576-013-0257-8. Epub 2013 Apr 4.

VEGFA SNPs and transcriptional factor binding sites associated with high altitude sickness in Han and Tibetan Chinese at the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA 98195, USA. nburoker@u.washington.edu


Mountain sickness (MS) occurs among humans visiting or inhabiting high altitude environments. We conducted genetic analyses of seven single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the promoter region of VEGFA gene for lowland (Han) and highland (Tibetan) Chinese. The seven SNPs were evaluated in Han and Tibetan patients with acute (A) and chronic (C) MS. We compared 64 patients with AMS with 64 Han unaffected with MS, as well as 48 CMS patients with 32 unaffected Tibetans. The SNPs studied are rs699947, rs34357231, rs79469752, rs13207351, rs28357093, rs1570360, and rs2010963 which are found in the promoter ranging from -2,578 to -634 bp from the transcriptional start site (TSS), respectively. Direct sequencing was used to identify individual genotypes for these SNPs. Arterial oxygen saturation of hemoglobin (SaO2) was found to be significantly associated with the rs699947, rs34357231, rs13207351, and rs1570360 SNPs in Han patients with AMS, while the rs2010963 SNP was found to approach significance in the AMS study group, but found to be significantly associated in the normal Tibetan study group. The Han and Tibetan control groups were found to diverge significantly for the rs28357093 and rs2010963 SNPs, as measured by genetic distances of 0.073 and 0.054, respectively. All the SNPs are found in transcriptional factor binding sites (TFBS), and their possible role in gene regulation was evaluated with regard to MS. MS was found to be significantly associated with these SNPs compared with their Han and Tibetan control groups, indicating that these nucleotide substitutions result in TFBS changes which apparently have a physiological effect on the development of high altitude sickness.

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