Thursday, May 17, 2012

Hyperbaric Oxygen and Type 1 Diabetes: New Animal Study Suggests Preventive Effect

When HyperbaricLink talks diabetes we're usually talking diabetic ulcers. But we note with great interest a promising new paper published online last week in the American Diabetes Association journal Diabetes, in which scientists at the University of Miami say they used hyperbaric oxygen to prevent or slow the progression of Type 1 diabetes in mice.

Our first question is, How does hyperbaric oxygen work? From the abstract:

HOT reduces autoimmune diabetes incidence in NOD mice via increased resting T cells and reduced activation of DCs with preservation of β-cell mass resulting from decreased apoptosis and increased proliferation.

We won't pretend to understand much of this beyond the given abbreviations: hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HOT), non-obese diabetic (NOD), and dendritic cells (DC). But we do know how difficult it can be to translate findings from animal laboratory experiments to human clinical studies. And we're not quite sure how physicians would know how to select patients and whether or when to use hyperbaric oxygen. A neat summary of the paper in HealthDay raises these and other questions.

That hyperbaric oxygen affects diabetes is not news to many researchers. Back in July 2010 we noted a paper in the Polish Journal of Endocrinology concluding "HBOT was shown to have beneficial effects on atherosclerosis and glycaemic control" in a study of 28 diabetes patients with foot ulcers.

The Miami study used 100% oxygen at 2.0 atmospheres absolute (ATA) and the Polish study at 2.4 ATA. Of course such subtleties will not stop every inflatable bag dealer from claiming this evidence as their own. Let the buyer beware.

For the evidence-based hyperbaric medical community, this is an altogether fascinating area of hyperbaric medical research. We have reached out to the Miami research team and eagerly await further studies.

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