Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Altitude acclimatisation

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
7.00.00  Interdisciplinary research     

Code Science Field
B470  Biomedical sciences  Physiology 
Hypoxia, altitude training, human performance, anemia, muscle metabolism, neocytolysis
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (10)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  20216  PhD Jan Babič  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2007  292 
2.  28474  PhD Tadej Debevec  Sport  Junior researcher  2007  369 
3.  25995  PhD Petra Dolenc  Psychology  Researcher  2007  190 
4.  27826  PhD Mihaela Jurdana  Neurobiology  Researcher  2007  200 
5.  14676  PhD Igor Mekjavić  Cardiovascular system  Head  2007  1,276 
6.  00118  PhD Bojan Nemec  Systems and cybernetics  Researcher  2007  289 
7.  21549  PhD Damir Omrčen  Manufacturing technologies and systems  Researcher  2007  51 
8.  11612  PhD Rado Pišot  Sport  Researcher  2007  997 
9.  03264  Bogomir Vrhovec  Systems and cybernetics  Technical associate  2007  60 
10.  06655  Janez Zalar    Technical associate  2007 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0106  Jožef Stefan Institute  Ljubljana  5051606000  89,961 
2.  1510  Science and Research Centre Koper  Koper  7187416000  13,879 
Hypoxic training is now widespread among athletes wishing to enhance their sea-level performance. Research to date has provided equivocal data regarding the efficacy of such training in improving aerobic performance, and has largely ignored the potentially negative effects such training may pose to the athlete. The research network of excellence „Beijing 2008“ established by the Slovene Olympic Committee has been tasked to address several issues that may influence athletic performance at the 2008 Olympic Games. The present proposal is the first in a series of research programmes initiated by this European multidisciplinary task force, headed by Slovene scientists, and supported by the Slovene Olympic Committtee. Experiments will be conducted using human subjects to evaluate different intermittent hypoxic training (IHT) protocols: sleep high-train low, and daily submaximal hypoxic training sessions. In addition, respiratory muscle training (RMT) will also be investigated to evaluate the contribution of the enhanced respiratory response during IHT to the observed benefits in sea level performance. The efficacy of these IHT and RMT protocols will be evaluated on the basis of physiological responses to maximal and submaximal normoxic and hypoxic exercises conducted before and after the IHT. In addition, hematological studies will explore the mechanism of neocytolysis observed in altitude acclimatised individuals returning to sea level, and investigate the implications this may have for athletes interrupting their IHT, prior to attending a sporting event. It is hypothesised that the results of this parallel study will also provide data for improving anti-doping blood tests, such that they will be able to discern between the IHT-induced elevated levels of erythropoetin, and those elevated due to EPO doping. The effect of IHT as a countermeasure to anemia in athletes will also be investigated. We will also assess the effect of altitude acclimatisation on insulin sensitivity with the euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp method. We will test the hypothesise that intermittent hypoxia may enhance the ability of exercise training in improving insulin sensitivity, and that it may enhance the ability of exercise training in stimulating the rate of protein synthesis in the fasting state and during the absorption of an experimental protein meal.
Significance for science
The proposed research programme will tackle several issues related to altitude acclimatisation. It will evaluate the efficacy of several protocols for altitude trainging of athletes, and quantify the process of acclimatisation and dacclimatisation based on the results of maximal and submaximal exercise tests. The study will also determine to what degree the improvements in exercise endurance following acclimatisation can be ascribed to respiratory muscle training. Indeed, the benefits of respiratory muscle training will be compared with those offered by altitude acclimatisation. During the process of deacclimatisation we will monitor the phenomenon of neocytolysis. We will explore the mechanism by which reduction in erythrocyte numbers is achieved by elimination of the younger, as opposed to the older, erythrocytes. Results of this analysis should also reveal whether blood tests for EPO could be improved to discern whether the elevated levels of plasma EPO are due to altitude acclimatisation. Results of studies investigating glucose utilisation and insulin sensitivity should provide valuable information concerning nutritional requirements of athletes during altitude training and acclimatisation.
Significance for the country
1. Technology: The Jozef Stefan Institute in collaboratiion with a Dutch company (Van Amorongen) has designed and developed several hypoxic facilities for altitude acclimatisation, which are now being used by many alpinists preparing for high altitude expeditions and athletes. Using the same technology, JSI has been awarded the contract of installing a low oxygen facility in the new Slovene Ethnographic museum, the purpose of which is to destroying organisms that may contaminate new acquisitions. There is now growing interest for us to provide such facilities to customers in other countries. 2. Tourism: The hypoxic facilities are regularly used by many athletes, providing a steady income for the proprietors. 3. Sports: The proposed research programme is the first such initiative, bringing together scientists of the region to assist athletes in improving their performance. 4. Science: This initiative has demonstrated that the political borders between countries are truly disappearing. Scientists of a European region have combined their resources to address issues of interest to athletes.
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