The positive results on the mouse models were discovered in correlation to the findings of the treatment on people over 65 with cognitive decline. The therapy included a series of 60 sessions of HBOT in pressure chambers over a period of 90 days.
Efrati described the process as having participants sit in a chamber that looks like an airplane with an oxygen mask. In the chamber, the individuals were administered HBOT utilizing 100% oxygen in an environmental pressure higher than one absolute atmosphere to enhance the amount of oxygen dissolved in the body’s tissues.
AT A CERTAIN point, the participants were asked to remove their masks, bringing their oxygen back to normal levels. However, during this period, researchers saw that fluctuations in the free oxygen concentration were interpreted at the cellular level as a lack of oxygen – rather than interpreting the absolute level of oxygen.
In other words, repeated intermittent hyperoxic (increased oxygen level) exposures induced many of the mediators and cellular mechanisms that are usually induced during hypoxia (decreased oxygen levels) – something Efrati explained is called the hyperoxic-hypoxic paradox.
The effects of the
therapy on the brain were evaluated using a high-resolution perfusion MRI.
The results: 16%-23% increase in cerebral blood flow, 16.5% improved memory, and improvements in both attention and information processing speed.
“After a series of hyperbaric treatments, elderly patients who were already suffering from memory loss showed an improvement of blood flow to the brain, as well as a real improvement in cognitive performance,” said Prof. Uri Ashery, also from Tel Aviv University, who helped with the study. “Consequently, we succeeded in demonstrating the latent potential of hyperbaric medicine for treatment of neurologic conditions that originate from hypoxia – that is to say, a deficiency of oxygen reaching the cells”.
Another member of the Tel Aviv research team, Dr. Ronit Shapira, said, “The combination of an animal model from which we could learn the pathology of the disease, together with existing and available therapy, raises the hope that we will now be able to fight one of the greatest challenges to the Western world. According to our findings, hyperbaric therapy given at a young age is likely to prevent this severe disease entirely.”