A preliminary investigation on the effects of intermittent exposure to hypoxia on glucose homeostasis

Researchers from the School of Health and Human Sciences are conducting a research project titled "A preliminary investigation on the effects of intermittent exposure to hypoxia on glucose homeostasis". The members of the research team are Professor Shi Zhou at Lismore Campus and Dr Michael Climstein at Gold Coast Campus.

There have been recent reports in the literature that intermittent exposure to hypoxia (ie. breathing air with oxygen levels lower than that at the sea level), with or without exercise, may have beneficial effects of lowing blood sugar in individuals with type 2 diabetes, as well as in weight control. The aim of this research is to conduct a preliminary study on whether intermittent exposure to hypoxia has an effect on blood sugar level in individuals with impaired fasting glucose.

The research has two phases:

  • Phase One is to investigate the acute effect of hypoxia intervention. Participants will be given one hour intervention session per week, for four weeks.
  • Phase Two is to determine the effects of six weeks intervention with three one-hour sessions per week.


Call for volunteer participants in a research on the effect of intermittent exposure to hypoxia on blood glucose

We call for volunteer participants who would meet the following inclusion criteria and do not have the conditions listed in the exclusion criteria.

Inclusion criteria:

  • both men and women in the age range of 18-65 years are eligible;
  • cardiovascular diseases;
  • fasting blood glucose greater than 6.0 mmol/L, or diagnosed with pre-diabetes or type 2 diabetes by your doctor; 
  • body mass index >25 kg/m2  (i.e. overweight or obese); 
  • no planned changes to medication regimen for hyperglycaemia (high blood sugars)(e.g. metformin, acarbose) or other metabolic diseases (e.g. lipid lowering drugs); and
  • no planned major lifestyle changes during the research period (i.e. commencement/ceasing of exercise regimen, pregnancy, new diet, etc.)

Exclusion criteria: with known conditions of

  • anemia or blood donation within past 3 months; 
  • severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; 
  • smoking;
  • alcohol consumption for more than 3 standard drinks per day;
  • obstructive sleep apnea;
  • uncontrolled asthma;
  • inflammatory and/or infectious diseases; 
  • intolerance to oxygen insufficiency; 
  • disease with symptoms of decompensation; 
  • terminal illness; 
  • cancer; 
  • pregnant; 
  • neurological diseases;
  • mental illness.

Please consult with the researchers or your GP if you have questions about your conditions.

During each intervention session the participant will breathe through a mask with air provided by a hypoxicator. The hypoxicator will add more nitrogen (no harm to the body) to the air to reduce oxygen concentration. The air will be provided intermittently with 10 minutes on hypoxia (approximately 15% oxygen) and 5 minutes on normal air (21% oxygen), for 4 cycles. Each participant's blood saturation of oxygen (measured by a pulse oximeter), heart rate, blood pressure, and electrocardiogram, will be closely monitored. In Phase One, fasting blood glucose level will be measured before, during and after the intervention, as well as in the morning of the following day. In Phase Two, fasting blood glucose, glucose tolerance, and blood insulin levels will be assessed.

The research has obtained approval by the Human Research Ethics Committee of Southern Cross University (approval number: ECN-19-037). The research will be conducted under the guidance of the relevant policies of the University, and the privacy of the participants will be properly protected accordingly. The participation is totally voluntary, you may withdraw from the study anytime with no adverse consequence.

Participation information

If you are interested and think you have met the participation criteria, and can commit the time, please contact one of the researchers. You may choose to participate in either Phase One or Phase Two of the study.

Gold Coast: Dr Mike Climstein (PhD), email: michael.climstein@scu.edu.au, office phone: (07) 5589 3330, mobile: 0411 749 640, location:  B7.39, Gold Coast campus

Lismore: Professor Shi Zhou, email: shi.zhou@scu.edu.au, office phone: (02) 6620 3991, mobile: 0416353994, location: P150, Lismore Campus