A helicopter flight does not induce significant changes in systemic biomarker profiles

Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2009;69(4):462-74. doi: 10.1080/00365510902745360.


Whole-body vibration and noise are inherent characteristics of helicopter operations. The helicopter pilot is affected by vibration from both low-frequency noise and mechanical vibration sources. The way this energy is transmitted to different tissues and organs depends on intensity, frequency and resonance phenomena within the body. Whole-body vibration is known to affect the muscular and skeletal system in the lower part of the spine, but less is known about the response at the cellular level to this stimulation. In some studies, chronic pathological changes have been described in different types of tissue in people exposed to low-frequency noise and vibration. The aim of the present study was to investigate possible cellular reactions to acute exposure to low-frequency noise and vibration in a helicopter. Thirteen healthy males aged 38 (18-69) years were subjected to a 3.5 h helicopter flight in a Westland Sea King Rescue helicopter. Blood tests taken before and after the flight were analysed for more than 40 parameters, including acute phase reactants, markers of leucocyte and platelet activation, complement and hemostasis markers, as well as a broad panel of cytokines, chemokines, growth factors and cell adhesion molecules. The subjects served as their own controls. With the exception of an increase in vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 (VCAM-1) during the flight, no statistically significant changes in the biomarkers were found after controlling for diurnal variation in the control blood tests, which were observed independently of the helicopter flight. In conclusion, one helicopter flight does not induce measurable changes in systemic biomarkers.

MeSH terms

  • Aircraft*
  • Aviation
  • Biomarkers / blood*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Noise
  • Vibration
  • Workforce


  • Biomarkers