Urinary leukotriene E4 levels increase upon exposure to hypobaric hypoxia

James M. Roach, Stephen R. Muza, Paul B. Rock, Timothy P. Lyons, Craig M. Lilly, Jeffrey M. Drazen, Allen Cymerman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Study objective: To determine whether urinary leukotriene E4 (uLTE4) levels increase upon exposure to high altitude, and also to ascertain the relationship between uLTE4 levels and symptoms of acute mountain sickness (AMS). Design: Prospective, unblinded, single-factor (altitude) experimental study. Settings: US Army research laboratory facilities at sea level ([SL] 50 m), 1,830 m, and 4,360 m. Participants: Eight healthy male subjects ranging in age from 19 to 24 years. Measurements: uLTE4 levels and symptoms of AMS were measured at just above SL (50 m), 3 1/4 days after being transported from SL to moderate altitude (MA) (1,830 m), and 1 1/4 days after ascent from 1,830 to 4,300 m (high altitude [HA]). Symptoms of AMS were assessed using standard indexes derived from the Environmental Symptoms Questionnaire weighted toward cerebral (AMS-C) and respiratory (AMS-R) manifestations. Oxygen saturation was measured noninvasively by pulse oximetry at SL and HA. Results: The mean (± SEM) uLTE4 levels (pg/mg creatinine) were 67.9 (± 13.2) at SL; 82.3 (± 5.5) at MA; and 134.8 (± 19.4) at HA (p<0.05 comparing HA with SL and MA). Conclusions: We conclude that uLTE4 levels increase shortly after exposure to HA even after staging for 4 days at MA. Although this study does not clearly demonstrate a relationship between uLTE4 levels and symptoms of AMS, it supports the hypothesis that leukotrienes may be involved in the pathophysiologic state of AMS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)946-951
Number of pages6
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1996


  • altitude
  • altitude sickness
  • leukotrienes


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