The innate ability of stem cells to differentiate into other types of cells with specialized functions (blood, brain or tissue cells) replenishes and regenerates the body from the effects of aging and disease.
Hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) has been shown to significantly increase the concentration of circulating stem/progenitor cells within the peripheral circulation system. By increasing blood plasma oxygen levels, bone marrow-derived stem cells were shown to significantly proliferate and mobilize. The proposed mechanism of action was through a nitric oxide-dependent mechanism. This evidence plays a key role in regenerative medicine as the increased number of stem cells in the body have the ability provide enhanced and accelerated physiological repair.
Studies have demonstrated the following therapeutic benefits of hyperbaric oxygen therapy on stem cells.
A landmark study published in 2005 (Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol Nov. 2005) involved 26 patients who were at risk for osteoradionecrosis after undergoing radiation therapy for head or neck tumors. All patients underwent twenty (20) HBOT treatments and blood was collected and evaluated after the first, tenth, and twentieth treatments. The population of CD34 cells in the peripheral circulation system doubled after the first treatment and increased eight-fold by the end of the trial. Colony forming cells also significantly increased, while vascular endothelial growth factor-2 and stromal derived growth factor increased as well. The study concluded that HBOT mobilizes bone marrow-derived stem/progenitor cells by stimulating nitric oxide synthesis.
The following research highlights the benefit of hyperbaric oxygen therapy and stem cells.