Combined effect of hyberbaric oxygen and N-acetylcysteine on fibroblast proliferation

Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 2005 Sep;131(9):809-14. doi: 10.1001/archotol.131.9.809.


Objective: To examine the combined effect of hyperbaric oxygen and N-acetylcysteine, a well-studied antioxidant, on fibroblast proliferation and production of 3 specific growth factors: basic fibroblast growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, and transforming growth factor beta1.

Design: In vitro study.

Subjects: None.

Interventions: Human dermal fibroblasts were propagated in serum-free medium and subjected to daily 90-minute 2-atm hyperbaric oxygen treatments with varying concentrations of N-acetylcysteine for 7 consecutive days. Cell proliferation and growth factor assays were performed on days 0, 1, 3, 5, and 7.

Results: Population doubling time decreased significantly with 40 micromol/L of N-acetylcysteine supplementation of 2-atm hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Higher levels of N-acetylcysteine increased population doubling time.

Conclusions: Supplementation of hyperbaric oxygen therapy with 40 mumol/L of N-acetylcysteine appears to increase fibroblast proliferation without producing an unfavorable growth factor profile for normal healing. This suggests that this level of N-acetylcysteine may foster an ideal redox environment for fibroblast proliferation in a hyperbaric oxygen environment.

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcysteine / pharmacology*
  • Aged
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / analysis
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / biosynthesis
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2 / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / cytology
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Male
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / analysis
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / drug effects
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / metabolism
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / analysis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / biosynthesis
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / drug effects


  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • TGFB1 protein, human
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Fibroblast Growth Factor 2
  • Acetylcysteine