Selected scientific publications on diving medicine and physiology.

2013 Oct 10
EPO modulation in a 14-days undersea scuba dive
Revelli L, Vagnoni S, D'Amore A, Di Stasio E, Lombardi CP, Storti G, Proietti R, Balestra C, Ricerca BM

Erythropoiesis is affected during deep saturation dives. The mechanism should be related to a downregulation of serum Erythropoietin (s-EPO) concentration or to a toxic effect of the hyperbaric hyperoxia. We evaluated s-EPO and other haematological parameters in 6 scuba divers before, during and after a 14-days guinness saturation dive (8-10 m). Athletes were breathing air at 1.8-2 ATA, under the control of a team of physicians. Serum parameters were measured before diving (T0) and: 7 days (T1), 14 days (T2) after the beginning of the dive and 2 h (T3) and 24 h (T4) after resurfacing. Hgb, and many other haematological parameters did not change whereas Ht, s-EPO, the ratio between s-EPO predicted and that observed and reticulocytes (absolute, percent) declined progressively from T0 to T3. At T4 a significant rise in s-EPO was observed. Hgb did not vary but erythropoiesis seemed to be affected as s-EPO and reticulocyte counts showed. All these changes were statistically significant. The experiment, conducted in realistic conditions of dive length, oxygen concentration and pressure, allows us to formulate some hypotheses about the role of prolonged hyperbarism on erythropoiesis. The s-EPO rise, 24 h after resurfacing, is clearly documented and related to the "Normobaric Oxygen Paradox". This evidence suggests interesting hypotheses for new clinical applications such as modulation of s-EPO production and Hgb content triggered by appropriate O₂ administration in pre-surgical patients or in some anemic disease.

Read more

2013 Sep 1
Functional comparison between critical flicker fusion frequency and simple cognitive tests in subjects breathing air or oxygen in normobaria
Hemelryck W, Rozloznik M, Germonpré P, Balestra C, Lafère P.

Measurement of inert gas narcosis and its degree is difficult during operational circumstances, hence the need for a reliable, reproducible and adaptable tool. Although being an indirect measure of brain function, if reliable, critical flicker fusion frequency (CFFF) could address this need and be used for longitudinal studies on cortical arousal in humans...

Read more

2013 Aug 15
Effect of a single, open-sea, air scuba dive on human micro- and macrovascular function
Lambrechts K, Pontier JM, Balestra C, Mazur A, Wang Q, Buzzacott P, Theron M, Mansourati J & Guerrero F.

PURPOSE: Previous studies have shown that bubble formation induced endothelial damage on conduit arteries. We aim to evaluate the effect of diving on microvascular and macrovascular function. METHODS: Nine divers took part in a SCUBA dive at 30 msw (400 kPa), for 30 min of bottom time. Pre- and post-dive, they underwent an assessment of endothelial-dependent (acetylcholine) and endothelial-independent (sodium nitroprusside) microvascular function (laser Doppler flowmetry), as well as endothelial-dependent (flow-mediated dilation) and endothelial-independent (nitroglycerin-mediated dilation) function. Bubble grades were monitored with Doppler according to the Spencer grade.

Read more

2013 Jun 18
Effect of tetrahydrobiopterin and exercise training on endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation in SHR
Guerrero F, Thioub S, Goanvec C, Theunissen S, Feray A, Balestra C, Mansourati J.

We examined whether the improvement of impaired NO-dependent vasorelaxation by exercise training could be mediated through a BH4-dependent mechanism. Male spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR, n = 20) and Wistar-Kyoto rats (WKY, n = 20) were trained (Tr) for 9 weeks on a treadmill and compared to age-matched sedentary animals (Sed). Endothelium-dependent vasorelaxation (EDV) was assessed with acetylcholine by measuring isometric tension in rings of femoral artery precontracted with 10(-5) M phenylephrine. EDV was impaired in SHR-Sed as compared to WKY-Sed (p = 0.02). Training alone improved EDV in both WKY (p = 0.01) and SHR (p = 0.0001). Moreover, EDV was not different in trained SHR than in trained WKY (p = 0.934). Pretreatment of rings with L-NAME (50 μM) cancelled the difference in ACh-induced relaxation between all groups, suggesting that NO pathway is involved in these differences. The presence of 10(-5) M BH4 in the organ bath significantly improved EDV for sedentary SHR (p = 0.030) but not WKY group (p = 0.815). Exercise training turned the beneficial effect of BH4 on SHR to impairment of ACh-induced vasorelaxation in both SHR-Tr (p = 0.01) and WKY-Tr groups (p = 0.04). These results suggest that beneficial effect of exercise training on endothelial function is due partly to a BH4-dependent mechanism in established hypertension.

Read more

2013 Jun 6
Oxidative stress in breath-hold divers after repetitive dives
Theunissen S, Sponsiello N, Rozloznik M, Germonpré P, Guerrero F, Cialoni D, Balestra C.

INTRODUCTION: Hyperoxia causes oxidative stress. Breath-hold diving is associated with transient hyperoxia followed by hypoxia and a build-up of carbon dioxide (CO₂), chest-wall compression and significant haemodynamic changes. This study analyses variations in plasma oxidative stress markers after a series of repetitive breath-hold dives. METHODS: Thirteen breath-hold divers were asked to perform repetitive breath-hold dives to 20 metres' depth to a cumulative breath-hold time of approximately 20 minutes over an hour in the open sea. Plasma nitric oxide (NO), peroxinitrites (ONOO⁻) and thiols (R-SH) were measured before and after the dive sequence. RESULTS: Circulating NO significantly increased after successive breath-hold dives (169.1 ± 58.26% of pre-dive values; P = 0.0002). Peroxinitrites doubled after the dives (207.2 ± 78.31% of pre-dive values; P = 0.0012). Thiols were significantly reduced (69.88 ± 19.23% of pre-dive values; P = 0.0002). CONCLUSION: NO may be produced by physical effort during breath-hold diving. Physical exercise, the transient hyperoxia followed by hypoxia and CO₂ accumulation would all contribute to the increased levels of superoxide anions (O₂²⁻). Since interaction of O₂²⁻ with NO forms ONOO⁻, this reaction is favoured and the production of thiol groups is reduced. Oxidative stress is, thus, present in breath-hold diving.

Read more