Oxygen in wound healing: nutrient, antibiotic, signaling molecule, and therapeutic agent

Clin Plast Surg. 2012 Jul;39(3):293-310. doi: 10.1016/j.cps.2012.05.001. Epub 2012 Jun 2.


Disturbances to healing observed under hypoxic conditions have given insights into the roles of oxygen. Wound hypoxia is more prevalent than generally appreciated, and occurs even in patients who are free of arterial occlusive disease. There is a strong scientific basis for oxygen treatment as prophylaxis against infection, to facilitate wound closure, and to prevent amputation in wounded patients. This article reviews extensive data from preclinical and human trials of supplemental inhaled oxygen, hyperbaric oxygen, and topical oxygen treatment. Oxygen supports biochemical metabolism and cellular function, and has roles in combating infection and facilitating the wound healing cascade.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Inhalation
  • Administration, Topical
  • Dermis / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hyperbaric Oxygenation / methods*
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Infections / etiology
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / drug effects
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / physiology
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxygen / metabolism*
  • Oxygen / therapeutic use*
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects
  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A / drug effects
  • Wound Healing / physiology*
  • Wounds and Injuries / complications
  • Wounds and Injuries / drug therapy*
  • Wounds and Injuries / metabolism*


  • Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor A
  • Oxygen