Although there are reports of the beneficial effects of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy in experimental settings, there are few clinical trials of HBO therapy for acute spinal cord injury (SCI). We investigated the effect of HBO in acute SCI by measuring plasma high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) and nuclear factor kappa-B (NF-κB) levels, and by monitoring changes in electromyogram F-persistence (the percentage of discernible F-waves) and F-chronodispersion (the difference between minimal and maximal latency). We enrolled 79 acute SCI patients and randomly divided them into control (conventional treatment) and the treatment (conventional treatment plus HBO therapy) groups. Plasma was collected before treatment and after treatment on 1st, 3rd, 7th, 10th and 30th day for the measurement of HMGB1 and NF-κB. Electromyogram F-waves were detected before therapy and after therapy on the 10th and 30th days. Clinical profiles and neurological outcomes were evaluated using American Spinal Injury Association (ASIA) and Frankel Grade scores. Compared to the control group, HBO therapy down-regulated HMGB1 and NF-κB expression in patients with acute SCI on days 3, 7, 10 and 30 (p < 0.05). F-wave chronodispersion decreased at days 10 and 30 (p < 0.01) following HBO. ASIA and Frankel Grade motor/pain scores in the treatment group were significantly improved on day 30 (p < 0.01). There was a positive correlation between plasma NF-κB at day 7 and F-wave dispersion at day 30 (r = 0.76, p = 0.00). In summary, HBO therapy regulated the inflammatory reaction in secondary SCI by decreasing plasma HMGB1/NF-κB levels and reducing the dispersion of electromyogram F-waves of the lower limbs, thereby promoting neurological function recovery.

Sun, Zhao, Li, Liu, Liang, Jiang, Kang, Gao (2019). Effect of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on HMGB1/NF-κB expression and prognosis of acute spinal cord injury: A randomized clinical trial. Neuroscience letters, 2019 Jan;692():47-52. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30391318