Intermittent hypobaric hypoxia-induced oxidative stress in rat erythrocytes: protective effects of vitamin E, vitamin C, and carnitine

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This study was aimed at determining the effect of vitamin E, vitamin C, and carnitine on intermittent hypobaric-hypoxiainduced oxidative stress (OS) in erythrocytes. For this purpose, male Wistar rats of 4 months of age were orally supplemented with one of the antioxidants prior to exposure to altitudes of 5700 m or 6300 m. Hemoglobin (Hb) and OS indices such as osmotic fragility and hemolysis were measured together with lipid peroxidation (LPO) and protein oxidation. The increase in Hb was accompanied by increase in activities of antioxidant enzymes, superoxide dismutase (SOD), and catalase (CAT) during exposure to both the altitudes without any further elevation by supplements. The extent of reduction in osmotic fragility and hemolysis by vitamin E and carnitine was greater at 6300 m than at 5700 m. Increase in LPO products, for example, malondialdehyde (MDA) and lipofuscin-like autofluorescent substances (AFS) was noticeable at both the altitudes, and vitamin E and carnitine were effective in reducing LPO. While protein oxidation products such as carbonyl content (PrC) and advanced oxidation protein products (AOPP) increased at 6300 m, protein sulphydryl (P-SH) content decreased. P-SH levels were restored on supplementation of antioxidants. Hence, our results indicate that vitamin E, vitamin C, and carnitine may be beneficial in overcoming OS and hemolysis under situations such as intermittent hypobaric hypoxia (IHH) and hypobarotherapy wherein hypoxia is used to correct many pathological situations in humans. Further, this study suggests that supplementation of vitamin E, vitamin C, and L-carnitine alone and not in combination can be beneficial in attenuating the OS associated with IHH compared to the unsupplemented rats exposed to two different altitudes.

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