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Exposure to high altitude is associated with sustained, but reversible, changes in cardiac mass, diastolic function, and high-energy phosphate metabolism. Whilst the underlying mechanisms remain elusive, tissue hypoxia increases generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which can stabilize hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) transcription factors, bringing about transcriptional changes that suppress oxidative phosphorylation and activate autophagy. We therefore investigated whether oral supplementation with an antioxidant, Coenzyme Q10, prevented the cardiac perturbations associated with altitude exposure. Twenty-three volunteers (10 male, 13 female, 46±3 years) were recruited from the 2009 Caudwell Xtreme Everest Research Treks and studied before, and within 48 h of return from, a 17-day trek to Everest Base Camp, with subjects receiving either no intervention (controls) or 300 mg Coenzyme Q10 per day throughout altitude exposure. Cardiac magnetic resonance imaging and echocardiography were used to assess cardiac morphology and function. Following altitude exposure, body mass fell by 3 kg in all subjects (p<0.001), associated with a loss of body fat and a fall in BMI. Post-trek, left ventricular mass had decreased by 11% in controls (p<0.05) and by 16% in Coenzyme Q10-treated subjects (p<0.001), whereas mitral inflow E/A had decreased by 18% in controls (p<0.05) and by 21% in Coenzyme Q10-treated subjects (p<0.05). Coenzyme Q10 supplementation did not, therefore, prevent the loss of left ventricular mass or change in diastolic function that occurred following a trek to Everest Base Camp.

Original publication




Journal article


High Alt Med Biol

Publication Date





459 - 467


Coenzyme Q10, altitude, cardiac metabolism, heart function, hypoxia, Adipose Tissue, Administration, Oral, Adult, Antioxidants, Blood Pressure, Body Mass Index, Cardiac Volume, Cell Hypoxia, Diastole, Dietary Supplements, Echocardiography, Female, Heart Ventricles, Humans, Magnetic Resonance Imaging, Male, Middle Aged, Mountaineering, Phosphates, Ubiquinone, Vitamins