Effect of developmental and ancestral high-altitude exposure on VO2peak of andean and European/North American natives

Tom D. Brutsaert, Hilde Spielvogel, Rudy Soria, Esperanza Caceres, Giliane Buzenet, Jere D. Haas

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35 Scopus citations


Peak oxygen consumption (VO2peak) was measured in 150 adult males (18- 35 years old) in Bolivia, using a complete migrant study design to partition developmental from ancestral (genetic) effects of high-altitude (HA) exposure. High-altitude natives (HANs,Aymara/Quechua ancestry, n = 75) and low-altitude natives (LANs, European/North American ancestry, n = 75) were studied at high altitude (3,600-3,850 m) and near sea level (420 m). HAN and LAN migrant groups to a nonnative environment were classified as: multigeneration migrants, born and raised in a nonnative environment; child migrants who migrated to the nonnative environment during the period of growth and development (0-18 years old); and adult migrants who migrated after 18 years of age. Variability in VO2peak due to high-altitude adaptation was modeled by covariance analysis, adjusting for fat-free mass and physical activity (training) differences between groups. A trend for increased VO2peak with increasing developmental high-altitude exposure in migrant groups did not reach statistical significance, but low statistical power may have limited the ability to detect this effect. HANs and LANs born, raised, and tested at high altitude had similar VO2peak values, indicating no genetic effect, or an effect much smaller than that reported previously in the literature. There was no functional correlation between forced vital capacity and VO2peak, within or across groups. These results do not support the hypothesis that Andean HANs have been selected to express a greater physical work capacity in hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)435-455
Number of pages21
JournalAmerican Journal of Physical Anthropology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Bolivia
  • Exercise
  • Human adaptation
  • Hypoxia
  • Migrant study design
  • Physical activity level
  • Physical work capacity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Anthropology


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