Disclosure:The authors declared no conflict of interest.
Ascent to altitude as a weight loss method: The good and bad of hypoxia inducible factor activation
Article first published online: 15 OCT 2013
© The Obesity Society
How to Cite
Palmer, B. F. and Clegg, D. J. (2013), Ascent to altitude as a weight loss method: The good and bad of hypoxia inducible factor activation. Obesity. doi: 10.1002/oby.20499
- Article first published online: 15 OCT 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 29 APR 2013 03:44AM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 18 APR 2013
- Manuscript Received: 21 MAR 2013
Given the epidemic of obesity worldwide there is a need for more novel and effective weight loss methods. Altitude is well known to be associated with weight loss and has actually been used as a method of weight reduction in obese subjects. This review demonstrates the critical role of hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) in bringing about reductions in appetite and increases in energy expenditure characteristic of hypobaric hypoxia
Design and methods
A MEDLINE search of English language articles through February 2013 identified publications associating altitude or hypobaric hypoxia with key words to include HIF, weight loss, appetite, basal metabolic rate, leptin, cellular energetics, and obesity. The data from these articles were synthesized to formulate a unique and novel mechanism by which HIF activation leads to alterations in appetite, basal metabolic rate, and reductions in body adiposity.
A synthesis of previously published literature revealed mechanisms by which altitude induces activation of HIF, thereby suggesting this transcription factor regulates changes in cellular metabolism/energetics, activation of the central nervous system, as well as peripheral pathways leading to reductions in food intake and increases in energy expenditure.
Here a unifying hypothesis is present suggesting that activation of HIF under conditions of altitude potentially leads to metabolic benefits that are dose dependent, gender and genetic specific, and results in adverse effects if the exposure is extreme.