Staphylococcus aureus infective endocarditis (IE) is a serious disease with an in-hospital mortality of up to 40%. Improvements in the effects of antibiotics and host responses could potentially benefit outcomes. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) represents an adjunctive therapeutic option. In this study, the efficacy of HBOT in combination with tobramycin in S. aureus IE was evaluated. A rat model of S. aureus IE mimicking the bacterial load in humans was used. Infected rats treated subcutaneously with tobramycin were randomised into two groups: (i) HBOT twice daily (n = 13); or (ii) normobaric air breathing (non-HBOT) (n = 17). Quantitative bacteriology, cytokine expression, valve vegetation size and clinical status were assessed 4 days post-infection. Adjunctive HBOT reduced the bacterial load in the aortic valves, myocardium and spleen compared with the non-HBOT group (P = 0.004, <0.001 and 0.01, respectively) and improved the clinical score (P <0.0001). Photoplanimetric analysis and weight of valve vegetations showed significantly reduced vegetations in the HBOT group (P <0.001). Key pro-inflammatory cytokines [IL-1β, IL-6, keratinocyte-derived chemokine (KC) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)] were significantly reduced in valves from the HBOT group compared with the non-HBOT group. In conclusion, HBOT augmented tobramycin efficacy as assessed by several parameters. These findings suggest the potential use of adjunctive therapy in severe S. aureus IE.

Keywords: Biofilm; Host response; Hyperbaric oxygen therapy; Hypoxia; Neutrophils; Oxidative stress.

Lerche CJ, Christophersen LJ, Kolpen M, Nielsen PR, Trøstrup H, Thomsen K, Hyldegaard O, Bundgaard H, Jensen PØ, Høiby N, Moser C. Hyperbaric oxygen therapy augments tobramycin efficacy in experimental Staphylococcus aureus endocarditis. Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2017 Sep;50(3):406-412. doi: 10.1016/j.ijantimicag.2017.04.025. Epub 2017 Jun 29. PMID: 28669832.