Survival at Extreme Altitude: Protective Effect of Increased Hemoglobin-Oxygen Affinity

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Science  22 Feb 1974:
Vol. 183, Issue 4126, pp. 743-744
DOI: 10.1126/science.183.4126.743


Decreased hemoglobin-oxygen affinity is thought to be of adaptive value to humans and nonindigenous animals at high altitude. To test this, hemoglobin-oxygen affinity was modified by carbamoylation of hemoglobin in rats. Exposure of control (low oxygen affinity) and experimental (high oxygen affinity) animals to a pressure equivalent to high altitude revealed that increased, rather than decreased, hemoglobin-oxygen affinity will permit survival at greatly reduced environmental oxygen pressures.

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