Breathing oxygen at a higher-than-normal air pressure might ease some of the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, if recent research done in mice has the same results in humans.
Mice genetically engineered to develop some human features of Alzheimer’s disease showed significant reductions in physical and behavioral symptoms after 2 weeks of daily treatment with hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT).
This was the result that a team hailing from the University of Tel Aviv (TAU) in Israel reported in a paper that was published recently in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.
HBOT is a type of treatment during which the person breathes oxygen at a pressure that is greater than normal air pressure. The treatment, which is delivered inside a pressurized chamber, can cause the lungs to absorb up to three times more oxygen than usual.
The researchers note in their study paper that, while HBOT “has been used successfully to treat several neurological conditions,” its effects on Alzheimer’s disease “have never been thoroughly examined.”
In a hyperbaric oxygen chamber that they custom-built for the small animals, the researchers gave the transgenic mice 1 hour of HBOT every day for 14 days. They also gave another group of normal mice (the controls) the same treatment.
After this, the team observed the mice as they completed a number of behavioral tests. They also examined their brain tissue for effects of the treatment on the physical hallmarks of Alzheimer’s. They compared the results with the control mice.
The researchers’ analysis showed various biological and biochemical signs that HBOT had reduced inflammation in the brain.
The team suggests that the findings show that HBOT shows promise as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease, especially given that it “is used in the clinic to treat various indications, including neurological conditions.”