Hyperbaric Therapy As Treatment For Parkinson’s Disease
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT) has shown promising benefits in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. It has been observed to decrease inflammation, enhance oxygenation throughout the body, promote the growth of new healthy blood vessels, and release stem cells. Research suggests that HBOT may improve neurological outcomes by increasing the presence of enzymes that protect cells and prevent neuronal damage. Additionally, it has demonstrated the potential to reduce depression, anxiety, and tremors in patients with Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that primarily affects the elderly and is characterized by motor symptoms such as resting tremors, rigidity, bradykinesia, and gait disturbances. Conventional therapies for Parkinson's disease, such as levodopa and dopamine agonists, primarily focus on alleviating motor symptoms. Chronic exercise has also been explored as a therapeutic approach. However, these therapies may not completely halt the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons.
Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy offers a potential adjunctive treatment option for Parkinson's disease, providing a non-invasive and potentially beneficial approach. It is important to consult with healthcare professionals experienced in treating Parkinson's disease to determine the suitability and potential benefits of HBOT for individual cases.
Exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen, with increased pressure and oxygen concentration, has been shown to have positive effects on various conditions. Studies have demonstrated that mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy can increase the oxygen levels in the blood, particularly the oxygen dissolved in blood plasma, and enhance oxidative metabolism in cells and tissues.
In animal studies, it has been observed that mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy inhibits or improves conditions such as metabolic syndrome, lifestyle-related diseases, and arthritis. These findings suggest that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen can have beneficial effects on these health conditions.
In the case of Parkinson's disease, which is characterized by a progressive decrease of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra, the mechanisms behind this decrease are not fully understood. However, it is suggested that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen can inhibit the decline of dopaminergic neurons, potentially leading to an improvement in Parkinson's disease. This improvement may be attributed to the enhancement of oxidative metabolism in dopaminergic neurons.
It is important to note that these observations have been made in experimental studies using animal models. The experimental procedures and animal care followed ethical guidelines and regulations to minimize the number of animals used and their suffering.
This study investigated the impact of exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen on motor functions and dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of mice with Parkinson's disease induced by MPTP. The findings revealed that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen resulted in improved motor functions in the mice with Parkinson's disease. Specifically, the number of instances where the mice's feet slid off the stick decreased after exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen in the experimental group.
The study also suggested that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen enhanced oxidative metabolism, particularly in pathways related to the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle. This enhancement in oxidative capacity affected skeletal muscle fibers and the spinal motoneurons innervating them. These findings indicate that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen can impact the neuromuscular system, which is closely associated with motor functions in mice with Parkinson's disease. Consequently, the number of instances where the mouse's feet slid off the stick was reduced following exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen.
However, it should be noted that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen did not show any effects on the duration before the mouse dropped off the cylinder or the time taken by the mouse to move a distance of 50 cm on the stick. The reasons for these differences in motor function outcomes were not explained in this study. It is important to conduct multiple performance tests, such as the rotarod, balance beam, pole, and open-field tests, to comprehensively evaluate motor functions in mice with Parkinson's disease due to individual behavioral variations.
Exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen was found to inhibit the decrease in dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra of mice with Parkinson's disease, as shown in Figure 3 of the study. The increased atmospheric pressure and high oxygen concentration during mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy result in elevated partial pressure of oxygen and increased dissolved oxygen in blood plasma (Ishihara et al., 2014). Based on the estimated levels of oxygen dissolved in blood plasma, mild hyperbaric oxygen conditions at 1317 hPa with 45% oxygen exhibit approximately 3.7 times higher oxygen levels in blood plasma compared to normobaric conditions at 1013 hPa with 20.9% oxygen. This enhanced oxygen availability through exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen contributes to improved oxidative metabolism in cells and tissues, particularly in pathways related to the mitochondrial tricarboxylic acid cycle.
The study hypothesized that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen inhibits the decline of dopaminergic neurons caused by Parkinson's disease by activating oxidative metabolism in these neurons. One of the factors believed to contribute to the enhancement of oxidative metabolism in dopaminergic neurons is peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor-gamma coactivator 1-alpha (PGC-1α). PGC-1α is a transcriptional coactivator involved in regulating cell oxidative metabolism, mitochondrial biogenesis, oxidative stress, and gene expression (Wu et al., 1999, Liang and Ward, 2006). Previous research (Mudò et al., 2012) observed that transgenic mice overexpressing PGC-1α showed resistance to dopaminergic neuron degeneration in the substantia nigra and dopamine depletion in the striatum.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is a well-established medical treatment that is typically administered at higher atmospheric pressures and with 100% oxygen. However, such treatments have been associated with various diseases and complications, including atherosclerosis, cataract, retinopathy, myocardial infarction, hypertension, diabetes, renal failure, and uremia (Padgaonkar et al., 2000, Griendling and FitzGerald, 2003, Oter et al., 2005, Oter et al., 2007, Gesell and Trott, 2007). Excessive atmospheric pressure and oxygen concentration, particularly in treatments with 100% oxygen, have been shown to increase the infiltration of inflammatory cells (Folz et al., 1999) and result in excessive production of reactive oxygen species in various tissues and organs (Narkowicz et al., 1993).
However, in this particular study, mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy was administered at a condition of 1317 hPa with 45% oxygen. Under these specific conditions, the observed side effects such as oxidative stress and barotrauma were not induced (Nagatomo et al., 2012). Moreover, exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen at these conditions poses a negligible risk of fire and explosion due to the relatively low atmospheric pressure and oxygen concentration.
The study concludes that exposure to mild hyperbaric oxygen at 1317 hPa with 45% oxygen effectively inhibits the decline of dopaminergic neurons, leading to the improvement of Parkinson's disease by activating oxidative metabolism in dopaminergic neurons. It is important to note that these findings specifically pertain to the conditions of mild hyperbaric oxygen therapy used in the study and should not be generalized to other forms of hyperbaric oxygen therapy with different pressure and oxygen concentration settings.