Introduction: Aging is characterized by the progressive loss of physiological capacity. At the cellular level, two key hallmarks of the aging process include telomere length (TL) shortening and cellular senescence. Repeated intermittent hyperoxic exposures, using certain hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) protocols, can induce regenerative effects which normally occur during hypoxia. The aim of the current study was to evaluate whether HBOT affects TL and senescent cell concentrations in a normal, non-pathological, aging adult population.
Methods: Thirty-five healthy independently living adults, aged 64 and older, were enrolled to receive 60 daily HBOT exposures. Whole blood samples were collected at baseline, at the 30th and 60th session, and 1-2 weeks following the last HBOT session. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) telomeres length and senescence were assessed.
Results: Telomeres length of T helper, T cytotoxic, natural killer and B cells increased significantly by over 20% following HBOT. The most significant change was noticed in B cells which increased at the 30th session, 60th session and post HBOT by 25.68%±40.42 (p=0.007), 29.39%±23.39 (p=0.0001) and 37.63%±52.73 (p=0.007), respectively. There was a significant decrease in the number of senescent T helpers by -37.30%±33.04 post-HBOT (P<0.0001). T-cytotoxic senescent cell percentages decreased significantly by -10.96%±12.59 (p=0.0004) post-HBOT. In conclusion, the study indicates that HBOT may induce significant senolytic effects including significantly increasing telomere length and clearance of senescent cells in the aging populations.