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.
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.