Friendly bacteria levels drop at high altitude
Posted 1 year ago by Jacob in General Health News
Exposure to high-altitude conditions is often associated with gastrointestinal disorders, inflammation and lowered immunity. Scientists believe that these conditions are linked to changes in the balance of the intestinal microbiota. A study lead by Brigitta Kleessen of the University of Leipzig, Germany, observed seven mountaineers on an expedition to the Nepalese Himalayas in 2002. The mountaineers gave serum and fecal samples to track changes in intestinal microbiota, and immune and inflammatory responses during the expedition. In addition, measurements of body temperature, pulse rate, arterial oxygen saturation and a questionnaire were also performed.
The results revealed a distinct alteration in the composition of the fecal microbiota relative to high-altitude exposure above 5000 metres. More specifically, levels of the Bifidobacteria species decreased and potentially pathogenic bacteria such as Escherichia coli increased. This led the scientists to conclude that changes in the intestinal microbiota may result in an increased health risk for mountaineers during exposure to very high altitudes.
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