Image: A new study suggests hyperbaric chambers may help Alzheimer’s treatment (Photo courtesy of RiverView Health).
A new study reveals that hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBOT) may alleviate symptoms experienced by patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Researchers at Tel Aviv University (TAU; Israel) and Assaf Harofeh Medical Center (Tel Aviv, Israel) conducted a mouse model study of AD that exposed old triple-transgenic (3xTg) and non-transgenic mice (controls) to HBOT in a custom-made hyperbaric chamber suitable for small animals. The mice then underwent HBOT for one hour per day for a period of 14 days, following which they underwent a series of behavioral, histological, and biochemical analyses to examine how the pathological hallmarks associated with AD were affected by HBOT.
The results showed that HBOT reduced behavioral deficiencies in 3xTg mice, reduced plaque pathology by 40%, and reduced neuroinflammatory processes by reducing astrogliosis, microgliosis, and secretion of proi-nflammatory cytokines, while increasing expression of anti-inflammatory cytokines. HBOT also reduced hypoxia, amyloid burden, and tau phosphorylation in the 3xTg mice. The researchers are now testing the effectiveness of HBOT on an additional mouse model of AD to investigate the mechanisms underlying its impact on the disease. The study was published on October 20, 2017, in Neurobiology of Aging.
“Oxygen treatment is a well-tolerated and safe therapy used in clinics around the world for various medical conditions, including neurological disorders,” said lead author PhD student Ronit Shapira, MSc, of TAU . “Although further research is needed to elucidate the underlying beneficial mechanisms of the therapy and to evaluate its beneficial effects in various Alzheimer patient populations, it holds great potential for the treatment of Alzheimer's disease.”
“This revolutionary treatment for Alzheimer's disease uses a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, which has been shown in the past to be extremely effective in treating wounds that were slow to heal,” said senior author Professor Uri Ashery, PhD, of TAU. “Hyperbaric oxygen therapy can actually improve the pathology of Alzheimer's disease and correct behavioral deficits associated with the disease. The main challenge in human use will be to initiate the treatment at early stages, before significant amount of brain tissue is lost.”
HBOT involves 100% pure oxygen delivered to a patient at atmospheric pressure three times higher than normal air pressure in an enclosed chamber. At those pressures, the body is able to incorporate more oxygen into blood cells, blood plasma, cerebral-spinal, and other bodily fluids; the increased oxygen absorption significantly enhances the body’s ability to aid in its own healing. In 1937 hyperbaric oxygen treatments were first used for decompression sickness, but it was not until 1956 that HBOT was used as a therapeutic aid in cardiopulmonary surgery.
Tel Aviv University
Assaf Harofeh Medical Center