Effect of hyperbaric oxygenation on intervertebral disc degeneration: an in vitro study with human lumbar nucleus pulposus

Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 2011 Nov 1;36(23):1925-31. doi: 10.1097/BRS.0b013e3181feebde.


Study design: An in vitro study with degenerated human lumbar intervertebral disc specimens cultured under hyperbaric oxygenation (HBO).

Objective: To observe the changes in interleukin (IL)-1β, prostaglandin (PG)-E2, nitric oxide (NO), cell growth, and apoptosis of the human nucleus pulposus cell (NPC) after HBO.

Summary of background data: Intervertebral disc degeneration has been demonstrated as related to IL-1β, PG-E2, NO, and O2 concentration but the actual mechanism is not clear. HBO also has also been reported in the literature to influence changes in IL-1β, prostaglandin E2, NO, and O2 concentration. However, the direct effect of HBO on the disc cells has not been previously reported.

Methods: We collected 12 human lumbar degenerated disc specimens and evaluated the effects of HBO on the cultured NPCs. The amounts of IL-1β, PG-E2, and NO in the conditioned medium were quantified by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and high performance liquid chromatography. Cell growth was measured by increase in cell number. Cell viability and proteoglycan content were evaluated by histologic study using safranin O staining. In situ analysis of apoptosis was performed using Terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) staining.

Results: Our data indicated that HBO treatment inhibited IL-1β, PG-E2, and NO production but increased cell number and matrix synthesis of cultured NPCs. TUNEL staining showed that HBO treatment suppressed the apoptosis of cultured NPCs.

Conclusion: HBO provides a potential treatment modality for disc degeneration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cell Proliferation / drug effects
  • Cell Survival / drug effects
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid
  • Dinoprostone / metabolism
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • In Situ Nick-End Labeling
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Interleukin-1beta / metabolism
  • Intervertebral Disc / drug effects*
  • Intervertebral Disc / metabolism
  • Intervertebral Disc / pathology
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / metabolism
  • Intervertebral Disc Degeneration / therapy*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism
  • Oxygen / metabolism
  • Oxygen / pharmacology*
  • Proteoglycans / metabolism
  • Time Factors


  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Proteoglycans
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Dinoprostone
  • Oxygen