Acute high-altitude exposure reduces lung diffusion: Data from the HIGHCARE Alps project

Piergiuseppe Agostoni, Erik R. Swenson, Roberto Fumagalli, Elisabetta Salvioni, Gaia Cattadori, Stefania Farina, Maurizio Bussotti, Margherita Tamplenizza, Carolina Lombardi, Daniele Bonacina, Maura Brioschi, Sergio Caravita, Pietro Modesti, Miriam Revera, Andrea Giuliano, Paolo Meriggi, Andrea Faini, Grzegorz Bilo, Cristina Banfi, Gianfranco Parati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The causes and development of lung fluid, as well as the integrity of the alveolar-capillary membrane at high altitude, are undefined. This study was conceived to see whether fluid accumulates within the lung with acute high altitude exposure, and whether this is associated with alveolar capillary membrane damage. We studied lung carbon monoxide diffusion (DLCO), its components - membrane diffusion (DM) and capillary volume (VC) and alveolar volume (VA) measured in 43 healthy subjects in Milan (122m) and after 1 and 3 days at Capanna Regina Margherita (4559m). DLCO measurement was adjusted for hemoglobin and inspired oxygen. We also measured plasma surfactant derived protein B (SPB) and Receptor of Advanced Glycation End-products (RAGE) as markers of alveolar-capillary membrane damage, and ultrasound lung comets as a marker of extravascular lung water. 21 subjects received acetazolamide and 22 placebo.DLCO was lower at Capanna Regina Margherita (day 1: 24.3±4.7 and day 3: 23.6±5.4mL/mmHg/min), than in Milan (25.8±5.5; pM reduction (Milan: 50.5±14.6mL/mmHg/min, Capanna Regina Margherita day 1: 45.1±11.5mL/mmHg/min, day 3: 43.2±13.9mL/mmHg/min; pC increase (Milan: 96±37mL, Capanna Regina Margherita day 1: 152±66mL, day 3: 153±59mL; pCO albeit, between day 1 and 3, such a trend was observed. Regardless of treatment lung comets increased from 0 to 7.2±3.6 (p

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-228
Number of pages6
JournalRespiratory Physiology and Neurobiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 15 2013



  • Gas exchange
  • Hypoxia
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Surfactant derived proteins

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine
  • Neuroscience(all)

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