Authors: Han CH, Zhang PX, Xu WG, Li RP

PMID: 29497483 PMCID: PMC5806443 DOI: 10.4103/2045-9912.215749


The veins are a major site of bubble formation after decompression and the lung is a target organ of bubbles. Bubble-induced inflammation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of decompression sickness (DCS). Macrophages play a central role in the inflammation, and macrophage polarization is closely related to the pathogenesis of some lung diseases. This study aimed to investigate the blood macrophage polarization in mice after decompression. BALB/c mice were exposed to hyperbaric air for 60 minutes, and rapid decompression was performed to induce DCS. Slow decompression and hyperoxia (150 kPa, 60 minutes) served as control groups, and hyperbaric oxygen (HBO; 250 kPa, 60 minutes) was employed for DCS treatment. Macrophage phenotype was determined by flow cytometry, and cytokines related to macrophage polarization were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Our results showed rapid decompression significantly induced the shift to M1 phenotype, which was not observed in slow decompression group, HBO and hyperoxia groups. These changes were consistent with the change in blood tumor necrosis factor α level. Moreover, any treatment could significantly increase the M2 macrophages, but blood interleukin-10 remained unchanged after different treatments. In addition, the blood and lung levels of monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 and intercellular adhesion molecule-1 increased significantly after rapid decompression, but reduced markedly after HBO treatment. Taken together, rapid decompression is able to induce the shift to M1 phenotype in blood macrophages, which may then migrate into the lung involving decompression-induced lung injury.

Keywords: blood; bubble; decompression sickness; hyperbaric air; hyperoxia; inflammation; macrophage polarization; mouse.