Hyperbaric oxygen (HBO) therapy is an effective adjunct treatment for ischemic disorders such as chronic infection or chronic wounds. It combines hyperoxic effects with the stimulating potential of post-therapeutic reactive hypoxia. As its crucial effects, stimulation of fibroblast growth, induction of collagen synthesis and the initiation of angiogenesis are discussed. Angiogenesis is a multistage process resulting in the growth of blood vessels. It includes degradation of extracellular matrix, proliferation and migration of different cell populations and finally formation of new vessel structures. This complex chain of procedures is orchestrated by different cytokines and growth factors. Crucial mediators of angiogenesis are basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF); their in-vivo function is still not fully understood. Forty-three patients suffering from sudden sensorineural hearing loss or tinnitus were treated with HBO. The therapy included 10 sessions of 90 minutes each, one session a day. Serological levels of bFGF and VEGF were assessed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays performed according to the manufacturer’s instructions on day 1, 2, 5 and 10 of HBO therapy and were compared to mean values of the control group, related to the patient’s age and sex, and their development observed over the ten days of HBO. There was no sex- or age dependency of bFGF observed in the present study, whereas under HBO our results showed a significant mitigation of the bFGF concentration. In the present data, there was no connection between the VEGF concentration and the patients’ ages. Women showed significantly higher levels of VEGF. There was no significant change of VEGF concentration or the VEGF/bFGF ratio during HBO. All scored results varied within the range of standard values as described in the current literature. A significant effect of HBO on serum concentrations of bFGF and VEGF was not verified in the present study. Additional application of exogenous growth factors in conjunction with HBO was not obviously linked by a coherent cause-and-effect chain as far as wound healing is concerned.

Jung, Wermker, Poetschik, Ziebura, Kleinheinz, , , , (2010). The impact of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on serological values of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF). Head & face medicine, 2010 Dec;6():29. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21176170