The Effect Of Oxygen Concentrations On Epiphyseal Plate Growth

Something that I found recently that has been proposed by Tyler in the post “Lengthening your Body with a Hyperbaric Chamber?” and by Timothy from AdultHeightIncrease is to use the idea of hyperbaric oxygen therapy to increase height for adults. 

From only a very quick look at the idea, it seems that the hyperbaric oxygen is where you increase the amount of oxygen concentration which can reach the area you are trying to affect. The idea is that increased oxygen would increase stem cell proliferation and stem cell numbers. However, I had argued in a recent post where I evaluated the scientific theory of the idea proposed by Timothy that the increased O2 concentration to the muscles would more likely increase vascularization and calcification, as well as lead the progenitor, pluripotent cells towards the osteogenic lineage than the chondrogenic lineage.

I recently found PubMed articles which seems to prove that the idea of increasing O2 concentration is probably more harmful than helpful and that it would actually have the exact opposite effect, stunting growth instead of stimulate it. Interestingly, these articles have been written by Dr. Carl Brighton, whose work I have become very familiar with ever since getting into the research.

Surg Forum. 1969;20:465-7.

The site of action of oxygen toxicity during in vitro epiphyseal plate growth.

Schaffzin EA, Brighton CT.

Calcif Tissue Res. 1970;6(2):151-61.
Brighton CT, Schaffzin EA.

PMID: 4100477

PMID: 5383117

Journal Contents   |   October 01, 1969

In Vitro Epiphyseal-Plate Growth in Various Oxygen Tensions


J Bone Joint Surg Am, 1969 Oct 01;51(7):1383-1396


1. A technique for growing epiphyseal-plate organ cultures in a rigidly controlled environment in various oxygen tensions is presented.

2. The cartilage portion of the epiphyseal plate, as determined by macrophotography and tritiated thymidine uptake, exhibited maximum growth in 21 per cent (160 millimeters of mercury) oxygen.

3. Maximum metaphyseal bone formation, as determined by macrophotography, microradiography, and tetracycline staining, occurred in 5 per cent (thirty-eight millimeters of mercury) oxygen.

4. In higher oxygen tensions, the cartilage portion of the plate showed narrowing, a progressive loss of acid mucopolysaccharide stainability, eventual loss of the zone of hypertrophic cells, and an accumulation of neutral mucopolysaccharide or glycomucoprotein at its base.

5. The most sensitive index to high oxygen tensions was an initial, transitory increased length of the zone of hypertrophic cells.

6. The possible mechanisms of oxygen toxicity on epiphyseal-plate growth are discussed.

Analysis & Interpretation:

While I was unable to find the abstracts for the first two articles, the last article by Dr. Brighton seems to show that the optimum O2 concentration level in proportion to the entire inhaled gas by humans is actually around 21%, which is what we are getting naturally. What is not well known is that around 70-80% of all the gas we inhale as humans is actually nitrogen. The O2 is the 2nd largest portion of the inhaled gas. The 3rd article seems to also show that the greatest rate for metaphyseal bone formation is around 5% of O2. In actually larger concentrations of O2, the cartilage portion of the plate decreased in thinkness, and the cartilage losses the stability of the intracellular matrix.

The conclusion I would give at this point is that the scientific theory of at least the 2nd compound Timothy from advocates does not agree with what the research done by other researches suggest.

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