Exposure to acute normobaric hypoxia (NH) elicits reactive oxygen species (ROS) accumulation, whose production kinetics and oxidative damage were here investigated. Nine subjects were monitored while breathing an NH mixture (0.125 FIO2 in air, about 4100 m) and during recovery with room air. ROS production was assessed by Electron Paramagnetic Resonance in capillary blood. Total antioxidant capacity, lipid peroxidation (TBARS and 8-iso-PFG2α), protein oxidation (PC) and DNA oxidation (8-OH-dG) were measured in plasma and/or urine. The ROS production rate (μmol·min-1) was monitored (5, 15, 30, 60, 120, 240 and 300 min). A production peak (+50%) was reached at 4 h. The on-transient kinetics, exponentially fitted (t1/2 = 30 min r2 = 0.995), were ascribable to the low O2 tension transition and the mirror-like related SpO2 decrease: 15 min: -12%; 60 min: -18%. The exposure did not seem to affect the prooxidant/antioxidant balance. Significant increases in PC (+88%) and 8-OH-dG (+67%) at 4 h in TBARS (+33%) one hour after hypoxia offset were also observed. General malaise was described by most of the subjects. Under acute NH, ROS production and oxidative damage resulted in time and SpO2-dependent reversible phenomena. The experimental model could be suitable for evaluating the acclimatation level, a key element in the context of mountain rescues in relation to technical/medical workers who have not had enough time for acclimatization-as, for example, during helicopter flights.
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