Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has gained attention for its potential to boost the growth of new brain cells and improve the lives of patients with various health issues. The growth of these brain cells, known as neurogenesis, is a natural healing process that is particularly important for injuries to the central nervous system (CNS). Research suggests that HBOT could enhance neurogenesis, leading to better recovery outcomes after CNS injuries.
How Neurogenesis Works
Neurogenesis mainly occurs in two brain areas in adults: the subventricular zone (SVZ) and the subgranular zone (SGZ) of the hippocampal dentate gyrus (DG). Injuries to the CNS, including trauma, stroke, and seizures, can trigger neurogenesis as a way for the brain to repair itself. Utilizing and enhancing this natural process could be crucial for restoring brain function after an injury.
Understanding Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy involves giving oxygen at higher pressures than normal. Originally developed for decompression sickness, it’s now used for various medical conditions, including neurological disorders. HBOT increases the amount of oxygen in the blood, which helps with processes like the growth of new blood vessels (angiogenesis) and the regeneration of tissues.
HBOT and Neurogenesis
Evidence shows that HBOT helps create new brain cells, both in lab studies and real medical situations. Research on conditions like hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE), vascular dementia, and stroke gives us insights into how HBOT affects the brain.
HBOT’s impact on neurogenesis relies on factors that control cell activities, like HIFs and CREB. For example, when there’s not enough oxygen, a factor called HIF-1α becomes really important. Normally, it goes away when there’s enough oxygen. But HBOT might keep HIF-1α stable, which could help protect the brain. Another important thing is the Wnt pathway, especially Wnt-3. This pathway helps control how brain cells grow and develop. HBOT might activate this pathway through Wnt-3, which could help cells grow. Also, there’s a factor called CREB that’s linked to memory and how adaptable the brain is. HBOT can affect CREB too. Activating CREB might help create new brain cells, which potentially leads to better cognitive function.
HBOT and Stroke
After a stroke, the brain’s cells called neurons need a lot of energy, and if the blood supply to the brain decreases, they can get damaged. In experiments, when there’s a temporary lack of blood (ischemia), new brain cells are made in a part of the brain called the DG. This happens most between 7 to 10 days after the lack of blood.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) seems to be a strong way to deliver more oxygen. It increases the amount of oxygen in the blood and helps bring back oxygen to the brain after a stroke. Past studies show that HBOT helps create new brain cells, makes damaged areas smaller, and improves brain function.
HBOT and TBI
After a traumatic brain injury (TBI), the brain responds by producing new neurons, which aids in the recovery process. This neurogenesis happens especially in the hippocampus, an area related to memory. Some studies suggest that Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) could be particularly useful for individuals with severe TBI.
Research indicates that HBOT is safe if administered at proper levels, such as 1.5 ATA for 60 minutes. In fact, in a review of treatments for acquired brain injuries (including TBI), HBOT was recommended as a viable non-pharmacological intervention. Additionally, there is strong scientific support from well-conducted studies (such as RCTs) that HBOT treatment has been shown to lead to improved survival rates in patients with TBI.
HBOT and autism
Autism is a condition that affects brain development and can lead to issues like reduced blood flow in certain brain areas and problems with the growth and movement of brain cells. In 2009, a study tried a treatment called Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) on children with autism. They were given 40 hours of HBOT with a bit more oxygen than normal, and it showed positive results. The children improved in different areas like language, social skills, and awareness
Overall, the connection between HBOT and neurogenesis presents a fascinating frontier in medical research. As we delve deeper into understanding this interplay, it holds the potential to open new doors for improving brain health and enhancing the quality of life for those affected by neurological disorders.
Mu, J. (2011, June 27). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy promotes neurogenesis: where do we stand? National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3231808/