Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is 100% oxygen administered at elevated atmospheric pressure to patients with inflammatory diseases. We developed an in vitro model to investigate the effects of HBO on stimulus-induced proinflammatory cytokine transcription and translation. Human blood-derived monocyte-macrophages were stimulated before being transferred to an HBO chamber where they were incubated at 97.9% O2, 2.1% CO2, 2.4 atmospheres absolute, 37 degrees C. Controls were maintained in the same warm room at normoxia at sea level, hyperoxia or increased pressure alone. A 90-min HBO exposure inhibited IL-1beta synthesized in response to lipopolysaccharide by 23%, lipid A by 45%, phytohaemagglutinin A (PHA) by 68%, and tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha by 27%. HBO suppressed lipopolysaccharide-, lipid A- and PHA-induced TNF-alpha by 29%, 31% and 62%, respectively. HBO transiently reduced PHA-induced steady state IL-1beta mRNA levels. Hyperoxia alone and pressure alone did not affect cytokine production. The immunosuppressive effect of HBO was no longer evident in monocyte-macrophages exposed to HBO for more than 3 h. Interestingly, cells exposed to HBO for 12 h synthesized more IL-1beta than cells cultured under control conditions. In summary, HBO exposure transiently suppresses stimulus-induced proinflammatory cytokine production and steady state RNA levels.


Benson RM, Minter LM, Osborne BA, Granowitz EV. Hyperbaric oxygen inhibits stimulus-induced proinflammatory cytokine synthesis by human blood-derived monocyte-macrophages. Clin Exp Immunol. 2003 Oct;134(1):57-62. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2249.2003.02248.x. PMID: 12974755; PMCID: PMC1808843.