Ziquan Liu1,2,3, Huanhuan Cui1,2,3, Lei Zhao1,2,3, Fucai Ma4, Yanqing Liu1,2,3, Yuansen Chen1,2,3, Jiale Chen1,2,3, Yaning Jia1,2,3, Wenli Li1,2,3, Jinxia Cai1,2,3, Xun Bi5, Penghui Li6, Haojun Fan1,2,3, Liqiong Guo This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1,2,3, Shike Hou This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.1,2,3 

1 Institute of Disaster and Emergency Medicine, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China
2 Wenzhou Safety (Emergency) Institute, Tianjin University, Wenzhou 325000, China
3 Tianjin Key Laboratory of Disaster Medicine Technology, Tianjin 300072, China
4 The Emergency Department, The Second People's Hospital of Tibet Autonomous Region, Lasa 850002, China
5 The Military Medical Identification Department, Characteristics Medical Center of The Chinese People's Armed Police Forces, Tianjin 300162, China
6 School of Environmental Science and Safety Engineering, Tianjin University of Technology, Tianjin 300384, China

Received: September 17, 2021
Revised: November 14, 2021
Accepted: November 16, 2021

 Copyright The Author(s). This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are cited.

Download Citation: ||https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.210222  

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Cite this article:

Liu, Z., Cui, H., Zhao, L., Ma, F., Liu, Y., Chen, Y., Chen, J., Jia, Y., Li, W., Cai, J., Bi, X., Li, P., Fan, H., Guo, L., Hou, S. (2021). Effects of Plateau Air Quality and Low Oxygen Content on Platelet mtDNA Methylation and High Altitude Pulmonary Edema. Aerosol Air Qual. Res. 21, 210222. https://doi.org/10.4209/aaqr.210222


  • The plateau had good air quality but low levels of pressure and oxygen content.
  • Hypobaric hypoxia exposure could induce mitochondrial DNA methylation changes.
  • The levels of MT-Cox2 methylation have a significant effect on inflammatory imbalance.


In 2020, the monitored AQI (Air Quality Index) in plateau—Tibet varied from 24 to 98 and averaged 48, while the PM2.5 concentration ranged between 3.0 and 31 µg m–3 and with an average of 10 µg m–3. The plateau—Tibet, had a good air quality, but with a lower atmospheric pressure and low oxygen concentration. As the important characteristic of plateau atmospheric environment, hypobaric hypoxia (HBH) is the key risk factor causing high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). It has been reported that the abnormal platelet function caused by HBH is an important pathogenesis of HAPE. In this preliminary study, male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into control group and HBH 24, 48, and 72-hour exposed groups. A multi-functional hypoxic chamber was used to simulate HAPE model with an altitude of 6000 m, oxygen concentration of 9.46% and partial oxygen pressure of 9.6 KPa. We measured pulmonary wet to dry (W/D) weight ratio, MT-Cox1, MT-Cox2 and MT-Cox3 methylation levels by pyrosequencing on blood samples from all rats and the levels of plasma inflammatory mediators by Luminex liquid chip technology. Results showed that the W/D ratio increased in the HBH-48h and HBH-72h exposed groups significantly (p < 0.05). The mtDNA methylation levels in all HBH exposed groups were lower than pre-exposure (all p value < 0.05). The levels of MT-Cox1, MT-Cox2_Pos2 and MT-Cox2_Pos3 methylation were correlated with W/D ratio significantly (r = 0.16–0.20, p < 0.05). And a strong correlation was found between some inflammatory cytokines (IL 4, IL 6, IL 10 and IL 12p70) and MT-Cox2 methylation levels (r = 0.09–0.30, p < 0.05). In conclusion, HBH exposures can induce alterations in platelet mtDNA methylation in HAPE, which may be related to unfavorable effects on HAPE caused by the inflammation through the regulation of inflammatory response.

Keywords: Air quality, Hypobaric hypoxia, High altitude pulmonary edema, Platelet, Mitochondrial DNA methylation

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