Effects of hyperbaric gases on membrane nanostructure and function in neurons

J Appl Physiol (1985). 2009 Mar;106(3):996-1003. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.91070.2008. Epub 2008 Sep 25.


This mini-review summarizes current ideas of how hyperbaric gases (>1-10 atmospheres absolute) affect neuronal mechanisms of excitability through molecular interaction with membrane components. The dynamic nature of the lipid bilayer, its resident proteins, and the underlying cytoskeleton make each respective nanostructure a potential target for modulation by hyperbaric gases. Depending on the composition of the gas mixture, the relative concentrations of O(2) and inert gas, and total barometric pressure, the net effect of a particular gas on the cell membrane will be determined by the gas' 1) lipid solubility, 2) ability to oxidize lipids and proteins (O(2)), and 3) capacity, in the compressed state, to generate localized shear and strain forces between various nanostructures. A change in the properties of any one membrane component is anticipated to change conductance of membrane-spanning ion channels and thus neuronal function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Cell Membrane / drug effects*
  • Cell Membrane / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Nanostructures
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / drug effects*
  • Neurons / physiology
  • Nitrogen / toxicity*
  • Noble Gases / toxicity*
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxygen / toxicity*


  • Noble Gases
  • Nitrogen
  • Oxygen