Surprising Medical Benefits of Hypoxia | by Abeer Fatima | Oct, 2021

Surprising Medical Benefits of Hypoxia

Hypoxia is quite often associated as pathological condition that can occur due to several reasons, such as during MI, sleep-disordered breathing, and central nervous system pathologies. However, recent research shows that acute intermittent hypoxia has a huge biological and clinical significance.

A remarkable physiology of hypoxia is that at a certain dose, when the body is deprived of oxygen, the nervous systems releases trophins that confer neuroprotection. Researchers claim that the unexpected benefits of hypoxia occur at a low dose whereas higher doses can lead to pathophysiological complications.

Acute Intermittent Hypoxia comprises of 3-10 episodes, each 5-minute episode after 5-min interval for about 7 days. This hypoxia improves respiratory and somatic function by enhancing the neural plasticity that strengthens the neuronal circuits.

Additionally, it also elicits the expression of different neuronal trophic factors such as BDNF, VEGF and EPO. These growth factors are expressed in motor neurons and they are proved to strengthen spinal motor neurons, restore rhythmic phrenic activity and enhance cerebral function.

In a research study, rats with cervical spinal injuries were exposed to daily AIH (Acute Intermittent Hypoxia) for 7 days. The researchers observed that the experimental rats had higher levels of trophic factors that enhanced the neuronal plasticity. They concluded that due to the strengthening of respiratory motor plasticity, the rats recovered from apnea.

To crown it all, we can say that the protective mechanism of the brain during AIH opens new doors for the development of novel therapies to treat motor impairment, cervical and spinal disorders.


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