The effect of hyperbaric oxygen treatment on the in vitro and in vivo activity of Borreliaburgdorferi

Abstract number: 1134_04_132

Pavia C., Butler G., Bittker S.


To evaluate the use of hyperbaric oxygen treatment (hbot) for its ability to inhibit the growth of Borreliaburgdorferi (Bb) in vitro, and in vivo, in a murine model of Lyme disease.


Several North American tick-derived and recently obtained patient isolates of Bb were studied for their sensitivity to hbot. To test for in vitro susceptibility, one million Bb were cultured in 0.2 ml of BSK growth medium using small snap-cap test tubes. With the tubes loosely capped, these cultures were then exposed, daily for one continuous hour (for 2 consecutive days), to pure, filtered oxygen pressurized to 2–3 times normal atmospheric conditions. This was achieved using a specially constructed, miniaturized cylindrical chamber (length = 25 cm; diameter = 17 cm), equipped to accept any pressurized gas mixture through one portal opening. After the final HBOT was given, all culture tubes were snapped shut. Matching control tubes received no HBOT. All cultures were incubated at 33 C for 2–3 days and were then examined microscopically for live, motile Bb at the end of the incubation period. For the in vivo studies, separate groups of C3H or CD1 mice were infected intradermally with 100.000 Bb. Two to 4 weeks later, one group of infected mice received a 1.0–1.5 hour(s) of continuous hbo exposure, for 2 consecutive or alternating days. The treated mice, along with untreated controls, were sacrificed one day after the last hbot, and extract cultures of their urinary bladders were prepared in BSK culture media. All cultures were monitored periodically for the presence of motile Bb, using darkfield or phase-contrast microscopy.


Following hbot, it was found 14 of 17 different strains of Bb had their growth inhibited by 33–94%, while there was little or no growth inhibition of 3 Bb strains. For the Bb-infectivity experiments in hbot-treated mice, it was found that borrelial spirochetes grew out in only 20% of the matching extract cultures, whereas live Borrelia were recoverable from 90% of the extract cultures prepared from the matching set of infected control mice not given and hbot.


These data show that hbot exerts a selective antiborrelial effect which suggest that it might possibly be considered as a clinically useful form of adjunct therapy in the treatment of Lyme disease.

Session Details

Date: 01/08/2007
Time: 00:00-00:00
Session name: XXIst ISTH Congress
Location: Oxford, UK
Presentation type:
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