Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 10, 2014

Increased levels of serum γ-glutamyltransferase and uric acid on metabolic, hepatic and kidney parameters in subjects at high altitudes

Gustavo F. Gonzales and Vilma Tapia


Background: Currently there are no studies on γ-glutamyltransferase (γGT) levels at high altitude or on the relationship between γGT, uric acid and several dysfunctions. The aim of the study was to determine the association between serum γGT and uric acid levels in subjects at high altitude with hemoglobin, glycemia, and lipidic, hepatic and kidney markers.

Methods: The present study was performed in 487 subjects aged 30–75 years living at 4100 m of altitude. A venous blood sample was drawn from each subject to measure hemoglobin, glucose, and lipid levels and markers of liver and kidney function. Quartiles for serum γGT and uric acid were calculated and associated with different physiological variables. A p-value <0.05 was considered statistically significant.

Results: Serum γGT values were higher in men (38.35± 2.54 IU/L) than in women (30.33±1.76 IU/L) (p<0.01). Similarly, serum uric acid levels were higher in men (5.78± 0.12 mg/dL) than in women (4.29±0.08 mg/dL; p<0.001). Serum γGT levels in the top quartile were associated with higher glycemia, overweight/obesity, increased levels of non-high-density lipoprotein (non-HDL) cholesterol, triglycerides, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, uric acid, creatinine, and hemoglobin. Levels of uric acid in the top quartile were associated with overweight/obesity, elevated non-HDL cholesterol, triglycerides, creatinine, γGT and hemoglobin. Higher arterial blood pressure was associated with high levels of uric acid but not with γGT levels.

Conclusions: At high altitude, increased γGT levels were associated with hyperglycemia; increased uric acid levels were associated with overweight/obesity, hemoglobin, dyslipidemia, high blood pressure and kidney disease.

Corresponding author: Dr. Gustavo F. Gonzales, Department of Biological and Physiological Sciences, Faculty of Sciences and Philosophy, and High Altitude Research Institute, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Av. Honorio Delgado 430, Lima 31, Peru, Phone: +51-1-3190000 ext. 2535, E-mail:


This study was supported by a grant from the Fogarty Program of the National Institutes of Health of the United States (NIH Research Grant 5-D43TW005746-04 funded by the Fogarty International Center, National Institutes on Environmental Health Services, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry). We acknowledge Manuel Gasco, Ana Huambachano, Carmen Maldonado, Ana Lucía Chirinos, Narda Malpartida, Vanessa Vásquez and Jessica Nieto for their support in the fieldwork.

Conflict of interest statement

Authors’ conflict of interest disclosure: The authors stated that there are no conflicts of interest regarding the publication of this article. Research funding played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.

Research funding: None declared.

Employment or leadership: None declared.

Honorarium: None declared.


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Received: 2013-12-11
Accepted: 2014-4-20
Published Online: 2014-6-10
Published in Print: 2015-1-1

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