Recently, the use of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) treatments by elite athletes to accelerate recovery from muscle injuries has become increasingly popular. However, the mechanism of promoting muscle regeneration under HBO conditions has not yet been defined. In this study, we investigated whether HBO treatments promoted muscle regeneration and modulated muscle regulatory factor expression in a rat skeletal muscle injury model. Muscle injury was induced by injecting cardiotoxin (CTX) into the tibialis anterior (TA) muscles. As the HBO treatment, rats were placed in an animal chamber with 100% oxygen under 2.5 atmospheres absolute for 2 h/day, 5 days/wk for 2 wk. We then performed histological analyses, measured the maximum force-producing capacity of the regenerating muscle fibers, and performed quantitative RT-PCR analysis of muscle regulatory factor mRNAs. The cross-sectional areas and maximum force-producing capacity of the regenerating muscle fibers were increased by HBO treatment after injury. The mRNA expression of MyoD, myogenin, and IGF-1 increased significantly in the HBO group at 3 and 5 days after injury. The number of Pax7(+)/MyoD(+), Pax7(-)/MyoD(+), and Pax7(+)/BrdU(+)-positive nuclei was increased by HBO treatment. In this study, we demonstrated that HBO treatment accelerated satellite cell proliferation and myofiber maturation in rat muscle that was injured by a CTX injection. These results suggest that HBO treatment accelerates healing and functional recovery after muscle injury.
Keywords: hyperbaric oxygen treatment; muscle regeneration; skeletal muscle injury.