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Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Jul;13(7):707-14. Epub 2006 Apr 24.

Hyperbaric oxygen reduces acetaminophen toxicity and increases HIF-1alpha expression.

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  • 1Program in Toxicology, Division of Emergency Medicine, Children's Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.



To investigate the effect of hyperbaric oxygen (HBO2) on acetaminophen (APAP)-induced hepatotoxicity. The authors further evaluated the effects of APAP poisoning and HBO2 on the expression and function of hypoxia-inducible factor 1-alpha (HIF-1alpha) in an effort to further describe the mechanisms of APAP-induced hepatotoxicity. In vitro assays were performed to better understand the effects of HBO2 on HIF-1alpha function.


In vivo, four groups of C57BL/6 mice were treated as follows: APAP only, APAP followed by HBO2, HBO2 only, and untreated shams. Plasma alanine aminotransferase activity was measured, and hepatic HIF-1alpha induction was determined by Western blot. In vitro, cultured HEP G2 hepatocytes were exposed to HBO2, hypoxia (2.5% O2), or normoxia. HIF-1alpha DNA-binding and transcriptional activity were assessed.


Alanine aminotransferase activity was reduced in the APAP+HBO2 group (2,606 IU/L +/- 4,080; vs. APAP: 6,743 +/- 3,397, p = 0.01 at 6 hours). APAP-only, HBO2-only, and APAP+HBO2 treatments all increased HIF-1alpha expression relative to shams (p = 0.02, p = 0.02, and p < 0.01, respectively). HBO2 increased HIF-1alpha DNA binding 5.7 (+/- 1.2)-fold relative to controls (p < 0.01); however, a parallel increase in HIF functional transcriptional activity did not occur.


Hyperbaric oxygen reduced early APAP-induced hepatocellular injury. APAP poisoning increases HIF-1alpha protein levels and functional activity. HBO2 increases HIF-1alpha protein levels and DNA binding without a corresponding increase in transcriptional activity.

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