Home Medizin Studie enthüllt neue Strategie zur Verbesserung und Beschleunigung der Genesung nach Muskelverletzungen

Studie enthüllt neue Strategie zur Verbesserung und Beschleunigung der Genesung nach Muskelverletzungen

von NFI Redaktion

Muscle injuries are common among the active population and are the leading cause of player dropouts in sports. Recovery of muscle function can be slow depending on the severity and may require surgery, medication, and rehabilitation. A study conducted by the University of Barcelona reveals a strategy to improve and accelerate recovery from muscle injuries, with potential applications in the sports and health sectors.

This study, published in the Journal of Physiology, is the first to provide scientific evidence for faster and more effective recovery from muscle injuries by exposing them to intermittent low oxygen availability (hypoxia) in a low air pressure chamber simulating high altitude conditions.

The new approach is crucial for the recovery of athletes, especially in elite performance, and can also help mitigate the socio-economic impact of lost work productivity due to these injuries in the active population.

The study conducted on animal models was published in the journal. The authors of the study are experts Garoa Santoildes, Teresa Pagès, Joan Ramon Torrella, and Ginés Viscor from the Department of Cell Biology, Physiology, and Immunology at the Faculty of Biology of the UB.

Why Does Hypoxia Aid in Muscle Recovery from Injuries?

Hypobaric chambers have long been used to enhance physical fitness in high-performance sports (mountaineers, climbers, etc.) and professional settings (high-altitude mining, astronomical observation, border control). Hypobaric hypoxia exposes the body to a low atmospheric pressure environment where cells absorb less oxygen, triggering a physiological response. The positive effects of intermittent hypoxia exposure on the body are well-described, but their potential applications in biomedicine are still being explored.

The study suggests that any type of muscle injury could recover faster when exposed to intermittent hypobaric hypoxia (simulated altitude), and it could likely also accelerate the recovery of muscle-tendon injuries.

Professor Ginés Viscor, Head of the Adaptive Physiology Group: Hypoxia, Exercise, and Health at UB

In tissues, hypoxia leads to local activation of the HIF (Hypoxia Inducible Factor) signaling pathway, a sensor for oxygen levels. „When cells do not receive enough oxygen, the HIF protein acts as a switch, activating changes in metabolic pathways to compensate for this deficiency,“ explains Professor Garoa Santocildes.

Among other effects, the HIF protein activates the proliferation of more capillaries through vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), a process that would bring more growth factors, metabolic substrates, and oxygen to the muscle level to support the muscle regeneration process after an injury.

Professor Teresa Pagès explains, „In addition, the HIF protein would also enhance the synthesis of specific proteins, the activity of certain enzymes, and the efficiency of mitochondria, the cell organelles that provide energy for cellular functions.“

Muscle Injuries and Therapies: A Paradigm Shift

In the treatment of muscle injuries, the classical view of RICE therapy (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) has evolved into a more holistic and active approach known as PEACE (Protection, Elevation, Avoidance of NSAIDs, Compression, Education) and LOVE (Load, Optimism, Vascularization, Exercise).

This paradigm shift has had a significant impact on the field of muscle injury recovery,“ says Professor Joan Ramon Torrella. „Exposure to hypobaric hypoxia,“ continues the expert, „fully aligns with this new paradigm and could even help enhance the effect of new therapies to accelerate the recovery of injured muscles.“

A therapy based on exposure to low oxygen concentrations could also help explore new treatment methods for pathophysiological injuries. Therefore, it would be important to test whether hypoxia can counteract the muscle atrophy typical of sarcopenia—a condition characterized by loss of muscle mass and strength—through processes involved in muscle regeneration (capillary proliferation, more effective oxidative metabolism, etc.).

„In these cases, the hypobaric hypoxia intervention would likely be enhanced when combined with individualized strength and endurance training activities. Even its application in the recovery of patients with persistent COVID-19 syndrome could be improved,“ concludes the team.


Journal Reference:

Santocildes, G., et al. (2023). Simulated Altitude is Medicine: Intermittent Exposure to Hypobaric Hypoxia and Cold Accelerates Recovery of Injured Skeletal Muscles. The Journal of Physiology. doi.org/10.1113/jp285398.

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