Repetitive hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) therapy may cause excessive generation of reactive oxygen species. This study assessed whether repetitive or 2–4-day trials of HBO2 therapy (2 treatments daily for 2–4 consecutive days) provides better effects in reducing brain inflammation and oxidative stress caused by middle cerebral artery occlusion (MCAO) in rats than did a 1-day trial of HBO2 therapy (2 treatments for 1 day).
Rats were randomly divided into four groups: sham; MCAO without HBO2 treatment; MCAO treated with 1-day trial of HBO2; and MCAO treated with 2–4-day trials of HBO2. One treatment of HBO2 (100% O2 at 253 kPa) lasted for 1 hour in a hyperbaric chamber.
Therapy with the 2–4-day trials of HBO2 significantly and dose-dependently attenuated the MCAO-induced cerebral infarction and neurological deficits more than the 1-day trial of HBO2 therapy. The beneficial effects of repetitive HBO2 therapy were associated with: (1) reduced inflammatory status in ischemic brain tissues (evidenced by decreased levels of tumor necrosis factor-α, interleukin-1β, and myeloperoxidase activity); (2) decreased oxidative damage in ischemic brain tissues (evidenced by decreased levels of reactive oxygen and nitrogen species, lipid peroxidation, and enzymatic pro-oxidants, but increased levels of enzymatic antioxidant defenses); and (3) increased production of an anti-inflammatory cytokine, interleukin-10.
The results provide the apparently contradictory finding that heightened oxygen tension reduced oxidative stress (and inflammation), which was reflected by increased antioxidant and decreased oxidant contents under focal cerebral ischemia.