Lack of Oxygen Might Lead to Inflammation: Study

Holger K. Eltzschig, MD, University of Colorado School of Medicine, has found a relation between lack of oxygen (Hypoxia) and inflammation of the organs. During a major surgery the body gets deprived of the oxygen. This can injure the vital organs of the body like lungs, the kidneys, heart etc. This condition of hypoxia can cause inflammation. To elaborate his point, Eltzschig says that during a liver transplant, the anesthesiology and the surgery might go perfectly well yet the new organ might fail due to hypoxia.

High-altitude athletes were considered in this research. Some athletes are deliberately trained at high altitudes where the oxygen is less. This way their bodies get adapted to the lack of oxygen and they perform well. This happens due to HIF or hypoxia-inducible factor. A protein sends complex signals to the body to defend itself during lack of oxygen supply. Now that the researchers know that the body can survive hypoxia, their next step would be to identify the molecular pathways of the body to fight this condition.

Eltzschig feels that this knowledge about how lack of oxygen is linked to the inflammation can help in saving lives of many who have undergone major surgeries. Potential harm to the major organs after a surgery can be averted with this understanding. The research is published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

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