University of Cambridge > > Disease: From Lab to Clinic - Caius MedSoc Talks, Michaelmas 2015 > Nitrate, hypoxia and mitochondria: the secrets of Sherpa success? - Dr Andrew Murray

Nitrate, hypoxia and mitochondria: the secrets of Sherpa success? - Dr Andrew Murray

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The Sherpa people migrated from Tibet to settlements in eastern Nepal around 500 years ago and are renowned for their aptitude as climbers of the high Himalayan peaks. The Sherpas share a common ancestry with other Tibetan populations, which may date back 30,000 years to the earliest colonisers of the Tibetan Plateau. Tibetan populations, including the Sherpas, have thus been exposed to high-altitude for a period of time which has permitted natural selection towards traits associated with life in hypobaric hypoxia. Physiological features, including lower circulating haemoglobin concentrations, elevated exhaled nitric oxide (NO) and circulating NO metabolites, and enhanced blood flow compared with lowlanders, suggest that alterations in O2 delivery offset the lower inspired partial pressures of O2. Recent genome-wide studies have identified candidate markers that may be associated with these traits. These include haplotypes in genomic regions encoding components of oxygen-sensing pathways and regulators of the expression of fatty acid oxidation genes. However, whilst it has become apparent that there is a genetic basis to human high-altitude adaptation, the mechanistic links between genetics and physiology have remained largely unresolved until now. In particular, little was known about metabolic adaptation in Sherpas, though they have been reported to have a lower muscle mitochondrial density than lowlanders. In this talk I will present data from our recent work into Sherpa physiology and metabolism and discuss the possible relevance of these findings to the treatment of critically ill patients.

Dr Murray studied Biochemistry at Oxford and is now a Director of Studies in Natural Sciences at Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He is also a lecturer in the PDN Departtment, and his research is concerned with the response of the body to low oxygen levels in diseases and at high altitude.

This talk will be very helpful for HOM , MIMS, BOD , HR and Part II PDN , Biochemistry and Zoology.

Refreshments will be provided!

This talk is part of the Disease: From Lab to Clinic - Caius MedSoc Talks, Michaelmas 2015 series.

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