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Mediators of Inflammation
Volume 2011, Article ID 429501, 9 pages
Research Article

Impact of Short-Term Systemic Hypoxia on Phagocytosis, Cytokine Production, and Transcription Factor Activation in Peripheral Blood Cells

Department of Internal Medicine I, Division of Cardiology, Friedrich-Schiller-University, Erlanger Allee 101, 07740 Jena, Germany

Received 29 January 2011; Accepted 14 April 2011

Academic Editor: Tânia Fröde

Copyright © 2011 Michael Fritzenwanger et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Hypoxia frequently associated with certain physiologic and pathologic conditions influences numerous cellular functions. Because the effects of short-term hypoxia are incompletely understood, we examined phagocytosis and cytokine production as well as the activation of the transcription factors HIF-1 and NFκB in peripheral blood cells of healthy volunteers exposed to an oxygen concentration equivalent to that found at a height of 5500 m. Furthermore, we analysed plasma HIF-1 and serum concentrations of various HIF-1-dependent genes. Results showed that short-term hypoxia increased phagocytosis in neutrophils without affecting monocyte phagocytosis. Hypoxia decreased basal TNFα concentration in monocytes and basal interferon γ concentration in CD4+ T lymphocytes. In contrast, plasma HIF and serum VEGF concentrations were not affected by hypoxia, although serum EPO concentration was raised. In PBMC, hypoxia increased cytosolic HIF-1 concentration without affecting nuclear HIF-1 concentration and led to a rise in the nuclear NFκB in PBMC. Our results show that short-term hypoxia affects immune functions in healthy individuals. Furthermore, we speculate that the effects of hypoxia are not due to HIF-1, but are caused by the activation of NFκB .