Glucoregulatory hormones in man at high altitude

Eur J Appl Physiol Occup Physiol. 1991;62(4):286-91. doi: 10.1007/BF00571554.


Concentrations of glucose, lactic acid, free fatty acid (FFA), insulin, cortisol and growth hormone (GH) in the blood were monitored in 15 euglycaemic men (sojourners, SJ) at sea level (SL) and while at altitudes of 3500 m and 5080 m, in acclimatised low landers (ALL) and in high altitude natives (HAN). In SJ, blood glucose and insulin concentrations showed a significant increase on the 3rd and 7th day after arrival at high altitude (HA), thereafter returning to sea level values and remaining the same during the entire period of their stay at 3500 m. Subsequently, on arrival at higher altitude (5080 m) the glucose concentrations again showed an increase over the preceding values and returned to SL values on day 41 while at 5080 m. A significant increase in cortisol concentrations was seen on day 3 after arrival at HA and the increased levels were maintained until day 21 at 3500 m. The cortisol concentrations on day 30 after arrival at 5080 m came down to SL values and remained unchanged thereafter. No appreciable change in GH and FFA was seen during the sojourn at HA. On the other hand, blood lactic acid concentration decreased significantly. There was no difference between the fasting glucose concentrations in ALL at 3500 m and in HAN at 3500 m and 4200 m compared to values of SJ at SL, whereas ALL at 4200 m had higher glucose values. Concentrations of plasma insulin and GH in ALL and HAN were higher than the values of SJ at SL, whereas cortisol values did not show any difference. These observations indicated that at HA the glucose values were high for the insulin concentration observed and might have been due to increased secretion of GH by the pituitary gland.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological
  • Adult
  • Altitude*
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Growth Hormone / blood
  • Humans
  • Hydrocortisone / blood
  • Insulin / blood
  • Lactates / blood
  • Lactic Acid


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Lactates
  • Lactic Acid
  • Growth Hormone
  • Glucose
  • Hydrocortisone