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Plasma from Volunteers Breathing Helium Reduces Hypoxia-Induced Cell Damage in Human Endothelial Cells—Mechanisms of Remote Protection Against Hypoxia by Helium



Remote ischemic preconditioning protects peripheral organs against prolonged ischemia/reperfusion injury via circulating protective factors. Preconditioning with helium protected healthy volunteers against postischemic endothelial dysfunction. We investigated whether plasma from helium-treated volunteers can protect human umbilical vein endothelial cells (HUVECs) against hypoxia in vitro through release of circulating of factors.


Healthy male volunteers inhaled heliox (79% helium, 21% oxygen) or air for 30 min. Plasma was collected at baseline, directly after inhalation, 6 h and 24 h after start of the experiment. HUVECs were incubated with either 5% or 10% of the plasma for 1 or 2 h and subjected to enzymatically induced hypoxia. Cell damage was measured by LDH content. Furthermore, caveolin 1 (Cav-1), hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF1α), extracellular signal-regulated kinase (ERK)1/2, signal transducer and activator of transcription (STAT3) and endothelial nitric oxide synthase (eNOS) were determined.


Prehypoxic exposure to 10% plasma obtained 6 h after helium inhalation decreased hypoxia-induced cell damage in HUVEC. Cav-1 knockdown in HUVEC abolished this effect.


Plasma of healthy volunteers breathing helium protects HUVEC against hypoxic cell damage, possibly involving circulating Cav-1.

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