The effect of hyperbaric oxygen treatment on early regeneration of sensory axons after nerve crush in the rat
Abstract The effect of hyperbaric oxygen treatment (HBO) on sensory axon regeneration was examined in the rat. The sciatic nerve was crushed in both legs. In addition, the distal stump of the sural nerve on one side was made acellular and its blood perfusion was compromised by freezing and thawing. Two experimental groups received hyperbaric exposures (2.5 ATA) to either compressed air (pO2 = 0.5 ATA) or 100% oxygen (pO2 = 2.5 ATA) 90 minutes per day for 6 days. Sensory axon regeneration in the sural nerve was thereafter assessed by the nerve pinch test and immunohistochemical reaction to neurofilament. HBO treatment increased the distances reached by the fastest regenerating sensory axons by about 15% in the distal nerve segments with preserved and with compromised blood perfusion. There was no significant difference between the rats treated with different oxygen tensions. The total number of regenerated axons in the distal sural nerve segments after a simple crush injury was not affected, whereas in the nerve segments with compromised blood perfusion treated by the higher pO2, the axon number was about 30% lower than that in the control group. It is concluded that the beneficial effect of HBO on sensory axon regeneration is not dose‐dependent between 0.5 and 2.5 ATA pO2. Although the exposure to 2.5 ATA of pO2 moderately enhanced early regeneration of the fastest sensory axons, it decreased the number of regenerating axons in the injured nerves with compromised blood perfusion of the distal nerve stump.
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