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PLoS One. 2015 Mar 5;10(3):e0118730. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0118730. eCollection 2015.

Volume regulation and renal function at high altitude across gender.

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Institute of Physiology, Center of Physiological Medicine, Medical University of Graz, Harrachgasse 21, 8010, Graz, Austria.
Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Medical University of Graz, Auenbruggerplatz 27, 8036, Graz, Austria.
Department of Pediatrics, University Hospital Vienna, Waehringer Guertel 18-20, 1090, Vienna, Austria.



We investigated changes in volume regulating hormones and renal function at high altitudes and across gender.


Included in this study were 28 subjects (n = 20 males; n = 8 females. ages: 19 - 65 yrs), who ascended to a height of 3440m (HA1), on the 3rd day and to 5050m (HA2), on the 14th day. Plasma and urinary creatinine and urinary osmolality as well as plasma levels of plasma renin activity (PRA), Aldosterone, antidiuretic hormone (ADH), and atrial natriuretic peptide (ANP) were measured. The plasma volume loss (PVL) was estimated from plasma density and hematocrit. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) was measured based on nocturnal (9 hour) creatinine clearance; this was compared with various methods for estimation of GFR.


The mean 24-hour urine production increased significantly in both sexes across the expedition. But PVL reached significance only in males. No changes in Na+ in plasma, urine or its fractional excretion were seen at both altitudes. Urinary osmolality decreased upon ascent to the higher altitudes. ADH and PRA decreased significantly at both altitudes in males but only at HA2 in females. However, no changes in aldosterone were seen across the sexes and at different altitudes. ANP increased significantly only in males during the expedition. GFR, derived from 9-h creatinine clearance (CreaCl), decreased in both sexes at HA1 but remained stable at HA2. Conventional Crea[p]-based GFR estimates (eGFR) showed only poor correlation to CreaCl.


We report details of changes in hormonal patterns across high altitude sojourn. To our knowledge we are not aware of any study that has examined these hormones in same subjects and across gender during high altitude sojourn. Our results also suggest that depending on the estimation formula used, eGFR underestimated the observed decrease in renal function measured by CreaCl, thus opening the debate regarding the use of estimated glomerular filtration rates at high altitudes.

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