Exercise-induced oxidative stress and hypoxic exercise recovery

Christopher Ballmann, Graham McGinnis, Bridget Peters, Dustin Slivka, John Cuddy, Walter Hailes, Charles Dumke, Brent Ruby, John Quindry

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34 Scopus citations


Hypoxia due to altitude diminishes performance and alters exercise oxidative stress responses. While oxidative stress and exercise are well studied, the independent impact of hypoxia on exercise recovery remains unknown. Accordingly, we investigated hypoxic recovery effects on post-exercise oxidative stress. Physically active males (n = 12) performed normoxic cycle ergometer exercise consisting of ten high:low intensity intervals, 20 min at moderate intensity, and 6 h recovery at 975 m (normoxic) or simulated 5,000 m (hypoxic chamber) in a randomized counter-balanced cross-over design. Oxygen saturation was monitored via finger pulse oximetry. Blood plasma obtained pre- (Pre), post- (Post), 2 h post- (2Hr), 4 h post- (4Hr), and 6 h (6Hr) post-exercise was assayed for Ferric Reducing Ability of Plasma (FRAP), Trolox Equivalent Antioxidant Capacity (TEAC), Lipid Hydroperoxides (LOOH), and Protein Carbonyls (PC). Biopsies from the vastus lateralis obtained Pre and 6Hr were analyzed by real-time PCR quantify expression of Heme oxygenase 1 (HMOX1), Superoxide Dismutase 2 (SOD2), and Nuclear factor (euthyroid-derived2)-like factor (NFE2L2). PCs were not altered between trials, but a time effect (13 % Post-2Hr increase, p = 0.044) indicated exercise-induced blood oxidative stress. Plasma LOOH revealed only a time effect (p = 0.041), including a 120 % Post-4Hr increase. TEAC values were elevated in normoxic recovery versus hypoxic recovery. FRAP values were higher 6Hr (p = 0.045) in normoxic versus hypoxic recovery. Exercise elevated gene expression of NFE2L2 (20 % increase, p = 0.001) and SOD2 (42 % increase, p = 0.003), but hypoxic recovery abolished this response. Data indicate that recovery in a hypoxic environment, independent of exercise, may alter exercise adaptations to oxidative stress and metabolism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)725-733
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Applied Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Altitude
  • Hypoxia
  • Physical activity
  • Redox imbalance


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