Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves peripheral insulin sensitivity in humans

Diabet Med. 2012 Aug;29(8):986-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2012.03587.x.


Aim: Hyperbaric oxygen therapy is known to reduce fasting blood glucose in individuals with Type 2 diabetes. However, the mechanisms of this effect are not clear. The aim of this study was to determine whether peripheral insulin sensitivity by hyperinsulinaemic euglycaemic clamp is increased in patients presenting for hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

Methods: Participants were non-obese individuals without Type 2 diabetes (n=5) or obese patients with Type 2 diabetes (n=5). Patients were given 100% oxygen at 2.0 absolute atmospheres for 2 h, six sessions per week for 5 weeks.

Results: Peripheral insulin sensitivity was increased in the whole cohort (P=0.04). Subsequent analysis revealed that this was significant at both treatment 3 (+37.3 ± 12.7%, P=0.02) and treatment 30 (+40.6 ± 12.6%, P=0.009). HbA(1c) was significantly reduced in subjects without diabetes only (P<0.05).

Conclusion: Insulin sensitivity increased within 3 days of hyperbaric oxygen treatment and this was maintained for 30 sessions. This increase in insulin sensitivity is equivalent to that observed following moderate weight loss. The mechanisms underlying the insulin-sensitizing effect of hyperbaric oxygen require further elucidation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation*
  • Insulin Resistance / physiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications*