Context: Despite its known benefits, hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is also reported to enhance the production of reactive oxygen species and can cause oxidative stress in several tissues. Previous studies had shown that HBO-induced oxidative stress is directly proportional to both its exposure pressure and duration. Nevertheless, these studies were usually performed with single-session HBO exposure but its clinical use commonly depends on long-term exposure periods.
Objective: To clarify the oxidative effect of long-term repetitive HBO in the lung tissue of rats.
Materials and methods: Male Sprague-Dawley rats were divided into six study groups exposed to consecutive HBO sessions (2.8 atm/90 min) for 5, 10, 15, 20, 30, and 40 days. Animals were sacrificed 24 h after the last HBO session. An additional control group was set to obtain normal data. Lung malondialdehyde (MDA) and carbonylated protein (PCC) levels were determined as measures of oxidative stress along with the activities of the antioxidant enzymes superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase.
Results: None of the measured parameters showed any changes among the groups exposed to 5-15 HBO sessions. However, MDA, PCC, and SOD were found to be significantly increased in the 20 to 40 session groups.
Discussion and conclusion: These results indicate that repetitive treatment with HBO may cause oxidative stress in critical tissues including the lung. Although HBO-mediated free radicals are accepted to be responsible for the benefits of this therapeutic modality, especially in cases with prolonged exposure, possible injurious effects of supranormal values of bio-oxidative products need to be considered.