Clinical studies have shown that hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves motor function in patients with spinal cord injury. In the present study, we explored the mechanisms associated with the recovery of neurological function after hyperbaric oxygen therapy in a rat model of spinal cord injury. We established an acute spinal cord injury model using a modification of the free-falling object method, and treated the animals with oxygen at 0.2 MPa for 45 minutes, 4 hours after injury. The treatment was administered four times per day, for 3 days. Compared with model rats that did not receive the treatment, rats exposed to hyperbaric oxygen had fewer apoptotic cells in spinal cord tissue, lower expression levels of aquaporin 4/9 mRNA and protein, and more NF-200 positive nerve fibers. Furthermore, they had smaller spinal cord cavities, rapid recovery of somatosensory and motor evoked potentials, and notably better recovery of hindlimb motor function than model rats. Our findings indicate that hyperbaric oxygen therapy reduces apoptosis, downregulates aquaporin 4/9 mRNA and protein expression in injured spinal cord tissue, improves the local microenvironment for nerve regeneration, and protects and repairs the spinal cord after injury.

Wang, Zhang, Luo, Li, (2014). Hyperbaric oxygen therapy improves local microenvironment after spinal cord injury. Neural regeneration research, 2014 Dec;9(24):2182-8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25657740