Hyperbaric oxygen therapy may help with Alzheimer’s disease

A study by researchers at Tel Aviv University shows that hyperbaric oxygen treatments may help improve symptoms by patients who have Alzheimer’s disease. Putting someone in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber has been shown in the past to be extremely effective in treating wounds slow to heal. Professional sports athletes, including even Lebron James, have used hyperbaric oxygen chambers to help them better perform in their respective sports. See http://www.slamonline.com/media/slam-tv/lebron-james-recharges-hyperbaric-chamber/.

The researchers have shown for the first time that hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually improve the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease and even correct behavioral deficits associated with the disease. Patients who undergo hyperbaric oxygen therapy breathe in pure oxygen in a pressurized room or chamber. In the chamber, the air pressure is increased to twice that of normal air. When this occurs, oxygen solubility in the blood increases and is transported by blood vessels throughout the body. The added oxygen stimulates the release of stem cells and growth factors which promote healing.

The researchers used a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease and built a custom-made hyperbaric oxygen chamber for them. Over the course of 14 days for one hour per day, the team administered hyperbaric oxygen treatment to the mice. After the 14 days were over, the mice underwent a series of behavioral tests and tissue biochemical tests to understand how hyperbaric oxygen treatment affects the pathological hallmarks associated with Alzheimer’s disease. The treatment was found to reduce behavioral deficiencies when compared to control mice, reduced neuroinflammation by roughly 40%, and reduced plaque pathology by 40%.

Hyperbaric oxygen treatment is a safe therapy used in various clinics around the world for many medical conditions.  In this study, the beneficial physiological effects of hyperbaric oxygen therapy were directly demonstrated on Alzheimer-affected brain tissue. The researchers speculate that a challenge in human use of hyperbaric oxygen treatments will be to start the treatment at the early stages of disease before any significant amount of brain tissue is lost. The researchers are conducting an additional study on the effectiveness of hyperbaric oxygen treatment on a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease to investigate the mechanisms underlying the disease. The researchers hope that by better understanding the mechanisms of the therapy and better evaluating the potential beneficial effects, that hyperbaric oxygen treatments may have benefits for those with Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: Ronit Shapira and et al., Hyperbaric oxygen therapy ameliorates pathophysiology of 3xTg-AD mouse model by attenuating neuroinflammation, Neurobiology of Aging, vol. 62, issue 105, 2018.

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