Exhaled Nitric Oxide Changes during Acclimatization to High Altitude: A Descriptive Study

Douglas T. Summerfield, Kirsten E. Coffman, Bryan J. Taylor, Amine N. Issa, Bruce D. Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Aims: This study describes differences in the partial pressures of exhaled nitric oxide (PeNO) between subjects fully acclimatized (ACC) to 5300 m and those who have just arrived to high altitude. Methods: PeNO was determined in eight subjects newly exposed and nonacclimatized (non-ACC) to high altitude and compared with that in nine subjects who had ACC to high altitude for 1 month. In addition, systolic pulmonary artery pressure (sPAP) and arterial oxygen saturation (SaO2) were measured in all participants. These measurements were repeated in the non-ACC group 5 and 9 days later. Results: PeNO levels on day 1 were significantly higher in the non-ACC versus ACC cohort (8.7 ± 3.5 vs. 3.9 ± 2.2 nmHg, p = 0.004). As the non-ACC group remained at altitude, PeNO levels fell and were not different when compared with those of the ACC group by day 9 (5.9 ± 2.4 vs. 3.9 ± 2.2 nmHg, p = 0.095). Higher sPAP was correlated with lower PeNO levels in all participants (R = -0.50, p = 0.043). PeNO levels were not correlated with SaO2. Conclusions: As individuals acclimatized to high altitude, PeNO levels decreased. Even after acclimatization, PeNO levels continued to play a role in pulmonary vascular tone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-220
Number of pages6
JournalHigh Altitude Medicine and Biology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018


  • acclimatization
  • exhaled nitric oxide
  • high altitude populations
  • systolic pulmonary artery pressure

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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