Developmental Effects Determine Submaximal Arterial Oxygen Saturation in Peruvian Quechua

Melisa Kiyamu, Fabiola León-Velarde, María Rivera-Chira, Gianpietro Elías, Tom D. Brutsaert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Andean high altitude natives show higher arterial oxygen saturation (Sao<sub>2</sub>) during exercise in hypoxia, compared to acclimatized sojourners. In order to evaluate the effects of life-long exposure to high altitude on Sao<sub>2</sub>, we studied two groups of well-matched, self-identified Peruvian Quechua natives who differed in their developmental exposure to hypoxia before and after a 2-month training period. Male and female volunteers (18-35 years) were recruited in Lima, Peru (150 m). The two groups were: a) Individuals who were born and raised at sea-level (BSL, n=34) and b) Individuals who were born and raised at high altitude (BHA, n=32), but who migrated to sea-level as adults (>16 years old). Exercise testing was conducted using a submaximal exercise protocol in normobaric hypoxia in Lima (BP=750 mmHg, Fio<sub>2</sub>=0.12), in order to measure Sao<sub>2</sub> (%), ventilation (VE L/min) and oxygen consumption (Vo<sub>2</sub>, L/min). Repeated-measures ANOVA, controlling for VE/VO<sub>2</sub> (L/min) and sex during the submaximal protocol showed that BHA maintained higher Sao<sub>2</sub> (%) compared to BSL at all workloads before (p=0.005) and after training (p=0.017). As expected, both groups showed a decrease in Sao<sub>2</sub> (%) (p<0.001), as workload increased. Resting Sao<sub>2</sub> levels were not found to be different between groups. The results suggest that developmental exposure to altitude contributes to the maintenance of higher Sao<sub>2</sub> levels during submaximal exercise at hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)138-146
Number of pages9
JournalHigh Altitude Medicine and Biology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Adaptation
  • Development
  • Hypoxia
  • Saturation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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