Sepsis is a major clinical challenge, with therapy limited to supportive interventions. Therefore, the search for novel remedial approaches is of great importance. We addressed whether hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) could improve the outcome of sepsis using an acute experimental mouse model. Sepsis was induced in male CD-1 mice by cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) tailored to result in 80-90% mortality within 72 h of the insult. After CLP, mice were randomized into two groups receiving HBOT or not at different times after the initial insult or subjected to multiple HBOT treatments. HBOT conditions were 98% oxygen pressurized to 2.4 atmospheres for 1 h. HBOT within 1 h after CLP resulted in 52% survival in comparison with mice that did not receive the treatment (13% survival). Multiple HBOT at 1 and 6 h or 1, 6, and 21 h displayed an increase in survival of >50%, but they were not significantly different from a single treatment after 1 h of CLP. Treatments at 6 or 21 h after CLP, excluding the 1 h of treatment, did not show any protective effect. Early HBO treatment did not modify bacterial counts after CLP, but it was associated with decreased expression of TNF-α, IL-6, and IL-10 expression in the liver within 3 h after CLP. The decrease of cytokine expression was reproduced in cultured macrophages after exposure to HBOT. Early HBOT could be of benefit in the treatment of sepsis, and the protective mechanism may be related to a reduction in the systemic inflammatory response.
Keywords: cytokines; hyperbaric oxygen therapy; sepsis; systemic inflammatory response.