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PeerJ. 2019 Apr 9;7:e6499. doi: 10.7717/peerj.6499. eCollection 2019.

Transcriptional profiling in the livers of rats after hypobaric hypoxia exposure.

Xu Z#1,2, Jia Z#1,2, Shi J1,2, Zhang Z1,2, Gao X1,2, Jia Q2, Liu B2, Liu J1,2, Liu C1,2, Zhao X1,2, He K1,2.

Author information

Laboratory of Translational Medicine, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China.
Beijing Key Laboratory of Chronic Heart Failure Precision Medicine, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China.
Contributed equally


Ascent to high altitude feels uncomfortable in part because of a decreased partial pressure of oxygen due to the decrease in barometric pressure. The molecular mechanisms causing injury in liver tissue after exposure to a hypoxic environment are widely unknown. The liver must physiologically and metabolically change to improve tolerance to altitude-induced hypoxia. Since the liver is the largest metabolic organ and regulates many physiological and metabolic processes, it plays an important part in high altitude adaptation. The cellular response to hypoxia results in changes in the gene expression profile. The present study explores these changes in a rat model. To comprehensively investigate the gene expression and physiological changes under hypobaric hypoxia, we used genome-wide transcription profiling. Little is known about the genome-wide transcriptional response to acute and chronic hypobaric hypoxia in the livers of rats. In this study, we carried out RNA-Sequencing (RNA-Seq) of liver tissue from rats in three groups, normal control rats (L), rats exposed to acute hypobaric hypoxia for 2 weeks (W2L) and rats chronically exposed to hypobaric hypoxia for 4 weeks (W4L), to explore the transcriptional profile of acute and chronic mountain sickness in a mammal under a controlled time-course. We identified 497 differentially expressed genes between the three groups. A principal component analysis revealed large differences between the acute and chronic hypobaric hypoxia groups compared with the control group. Several immune-related and metabolic pathways, such as cytokine-cytokine receptor interaction and galactose metabolism, were highly enriched in the KEGG pathway analysis. Similar results were found in the Gene Ontology analysis. Cogena analysis showed that the immune-related pathways were mainly upregulated and enriched in the acute hypobaric hypoxia group.


Hypobaric hypoxia; Mountain sickness; Rat model; Transcriptional analysis

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare there are no competing interests.

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