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Exp Ther Med. 2017 Oct;14(4):3780-3787. doi: 10.3892/etm.2017.4996. Epub 2017 Aug 22.

Mechanism of apoptosis involved in gastric mucosal lesions in Tibetans with high-altitude polycythemia.

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Department of Gastroenterology, The Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Zunyi Medical University, Zhuhai, Guangdong 519100, P.R. China.
Department of Gastroenterology, People's Hospital of Tibet Autonomous Region, Lhasa, Tibet 850000, P.R. China.


The Tibetan high plateau is a low-oxygen environment, which may cause the pathogenesis of high-altitude polycythemia (HAPC). Gastric mucosal lesions (GML) are a common complication of HAPC. The molecular mechanisms involved in HAPC-induced GML have remained to be fully elucidated and were therefore investigated in the present study. Gastric tissues of patients with heavy, HAPC-induced GML and healthy controls were assessed by ultrastructural and histopathological analysis. In addition, terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine triphosphate nick-end labeling and reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) analysis were used to detect cell apoptosis in the gastric mucosa tissues. Moreover, the expression of genes associated with the phosphoinositide-3 kinase (PI3K) pathway was assessed by RT-qPCR to investigate the mechanism of cell apoptosis in HAPC-induced GML. The results revealed a significant increase in the number of red blood cells, gastric vessels and the diameter of gastric mucosal vessels in HAPC-induced GML patients compared with those in healthy controls. In addition, more red blood cells were distributed in gastric tissue not only at the vascular level but also in the tissue space. The number of vacuoles was increased in the gastric mucosal cells. Furthermore, a significant increase in apoptosis of the gastric mucosal cells was identified. The expression of phosphatase and tensin homolog was significantly higher in gastric mucosa from patients with HAPC-induced GML compared with that in the healthy controls. All of the pathologic changes suggested that significant cell apoptosis occurred in the HAPC-induced GML tissues, which may be associated with the PI3K pathway. These findings may provide novel insight for the treatment of gastric lesions caused by HAPC in the future.


PTEN; apoptosis; gastric mucosal lesion; high-altitude polycythemia; mechanism

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