Acute normobaric hypoxia stimulates erythropoietin release

High Alt Med Biol. 2008 Spring;9(1):28-37. doi: 10.1089/ham.2007.1043.


Investigations studying the secretion of EPO (erythropoietin) in response to acute hypoxia have produced mixed results. Further, the errors associated with the various methods used to determine EPO are not well documented. The purpose of the current study was to determine the EPO response of 17 trained male subjects to either an acute bout of normobaric hypoxia (Hy; n = 10) or normoxia (Con; n = 7). A secondary aim was to determine the error associated with the measurement of EPO. After baseline tests, the treatment group (Hy) underwent a single bout of hypoxic exposure (F(I(O(2))) approximately 0.148; 3100 m) consisting of a 90-min rest period followed by a 30-min exercise phase (50% V(O)(2max)). Venous blood samples were drawn pre (0 min) and post (120 min) each test to assess changes in plasma EPO (DeltaEPO). The control (Con) group was subjected to the same general experimental design, but placed in a normoxic environment (F(I(O(2))) approximately 0.2093). The Hy group demonstrated a mean increase in EPO [19.3 (4.4) vs. 24.1 (5.1) mU/mL], p < 0.04, post 120 min of normobaric hypoxia. The calculated technical error of measurement for EPO was 2.1 mU/mL (9.8%). It was concluded that an acute bout of hypoxia, has the capacity to elevate plasma EPO. This study also demonstrates that the increase in EPO accumulation was 2 times greater than the calculated measurement of error.

Publication types

  • Controlled Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acclimatization / physiology*
  • Adult
  • Altitude Sickness / blood*
  • Erythropoietin / blood*
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / blood*
  • Male
  • Physical Education and Training / methods
  • Physical Endurance / physiology


  • Hemoglobins
  • Erythropoietin