The Office of Naval Research has awarded Duke Anesthesiology’s Heath Gasier, PhD, a $227,954 grant to study the effects of hyperbaric oxygen on skeletal muscle calcium regulation and mitochondrial function.
Oxidant production increases with strenuous muscle contractions and has been reported to cause or contribute to fatigue. It is, therefore, probable that intramuscular oxidant production is increased during prolonged and repeated HBO2 exposures and results in damage to organelles and regulatory proteins involved in muscle contraction and bioenergetics.
This research will help Gasier determine the impact of skeletal muscle oxidant production on calcium regulation and mitochondrial function in mice exposed to HBO2, ultimately identifying new approaches for preventing oxygen toxicity and optimizing performance in divers.
In this study, he will implement an innovative combination of biological techniques. His approach allows for real time measurement of total and mitochondrial superoxide and calcium levels, and mitochondrial membrane potential in live muscle fibers ex vivo. Combined with immunoblotting and immunofluorescence, he aims to identify the potential source of muscle fatigue. Gasier’s central hypothesis is that prolonged and repeated HBO2 exposures increase oxidation of RyR1 and STIM1 that increases intracellular and mitochondrial calcium uptake, resulting in impaired mitochondrial function. This hypothesis is based on the synthesis of work by others.
Gasier’s work is expected to discover whether critical targets involved in muscle contraction are influenced by HBO2. Results of this research will have an important and positive impact because they will offer a strong scientific framework for testing specific drugs or antioxidants on muscle and aerobic exercise performance after HBO2.