Normal tissue injury may lead to severe, life threatening, late side effects after therapeutic use of irradiation. Neurological complications caused by radiation of the spinal cord are ascribed to progressive, irreversible damage to the vasculature. Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) is known to induce angiogenesis in irradiated tissue and has been proven to reduce late radiation injury in several normal tissues when applied during the latent period before complications become manifest. In the present study: (1). the prophylactic potential of HBO; (2). optimal timing of HBO therapy after spinal cord irradiation, i.e. during the latent period; and (3). effect of HBO on the re-irradiation tolerance of the spinal cord were investigated. The rat cervical spinal cord was locally X-ray irradiated with ten fractions of 6.5 Gy in 11 days. Five treatment groups (n=10) included: irradiation alone and irradiation followed by 30 HBO treatments (100% oxygen at 240 kPa for 90 min) during latency, with HBO starting either immediately, 5, 10 or 15 weeks after the primary irradiation course. One year after the primary treatment, the same spinal cord volume was re-irradiated with 20 Gy single dose. During life span, the animals were observed on the incidence of myelitis and the duration of the latent period. The actuarial analysis revealed no significant difference in neurological complications free survival between the irradiation alone and the irradiation+HBO treatment groups. A tendency towards radiosensitization was found in the group in which the primary irradiation course was immediately followed by the HBO treatment course. The data show that HBO applied during the latent period of progressively developing irradiation damage to the spinal cord does not increase the re-irradiation tolerance of this tissue.
Sminia, van der Kleij, Carl, Feldmeier, Hartmann, , , , (2003). Prophylactic hyperbaric oxygen treatment and rat spinal cord re-irradiation. Cancer letters, 2003 Feb;191(1):59-65. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12609710