CCMB examines changes in physiological factors of Tibetans in low-altitude regions
Tibetans are one of the oldest high-altitude inhabitants in the world. There are known genetic and physiological factors that help them endure low-oxygen conditions. However, their population has now moved to low-altitude regions such as Karnataka.
When Dr K. Thangaraj (now DBT- Director of Centre for DNA Finger Printing & Diagnostics – CDFD) and his team at the CSIR-Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), Hyderabad, studied changes in physiological factors of Tibetans now inhabiting the low-altitude regions like Karnataka, and found that the blood parameters in Tibetans are significantly different compared to their high-altitude counterparts.
“We found that the red blood cells, haemoglobin concentration and haematocrit are significantly lower in the low-altitude Tibetans. Their haemoglobin levels are much closer to those living on the plains than the other Tibetans living beyond 4500 metres,” said Nipa Basak, first author.
“Our study suggests that when Tibetan people reside in non-native, low-altitude, area for long time, their body undergoes various adaptations to cope with the relatively hyperoxic environment in low-altitude areas,” said Dr. Thangaraj, also the lead investigator.
In this study, physiological factors of the people of the Tibetan ethnicity from various regions of the high altitudes of Ladakh at 4,500-4,900 metres in India are compared with those inhabiting Tibetan settlements in Bylakuppe, Karnataka, at an altitude of around 850 metres.
The population in Karnataka had migrated from Tibet after Tibetan uprising in 1959 and have been living there for the last 50 years. The study has been recently published in the ‘Journal of Blood Medicine’ and the work was done in collaboration with researchers from Ladakh and Karnataka, including Dr Tsering Norboo of the Ladakh Institute of Prevention, Ladakh, and Dr. MS Mustak of Mangalore University, Karnataka, said an official release.