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Serum tau concentration after diving - an observational pilot study.

Journal article
Authors Anders Rosén
Nicklas Oscarsson
Andreas Kvarnström
Mikael Gennser
Göran Sandström
Kaj Blennow
Helen Seeman-Lodding
Henrik Zetterberg
Published in Diving and hyperbaric medicine
Volume 49
Issue 2
Pages 88-95
ISSN 1833-3516
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Pages 88-95
Language en
Keywords Blood Gas Analysis, Decompression Sickness, Diving, adverse effects, Humans, Pilot Projects, Prospective Studies, tau Proteins, blood
Subject categories Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, Clinical chemistry


Increased concentrations of tau protein are associated with medical conditions involving the central nervous system, such as Alzheimer's disease, traumatic brain injury and hypoxia. Diving, by way of an elevated ambient pressure, can affect the nervous system, however it is not known whether it causes a rise in tau protein levels in serum. A prospective observational pilot study was performed to investigate changes in tau protein concentrations in serum after diving and also determine their relationship, if any, to the amount of inert gas bubbling in the venous blood.Subjects were 10 navy divers performing one or two dives per day, increasing in depth, over four days. Maximum dive depths ranged from 52-90 metres' sea water (msw). Air or trimix (nitrogen/oxygen/helium) was used as the breathing gas and the oxygen partial pressure did not exceed 160 kPa. Blood samples taken before the first and after the last dives were analyzed. Divers were monitored for the presence of venous gas emboli (VGE) at 10 to15 minute intervals for up to 120 minutes using precordial Doppler ultrasound.Median tau protein before diving was 0.200 pg·mL⁻¹ (range 0.100 to 1.10 pg·mL⁻¹) and after diving was 0.450 pg·mL⁻¹ (range 0.100 to 1.20 pg·mL⁻¹; P = 0.016). Glial fibrillary acidic protein and neurofilament light protein concentrations analyzed in the same assay did not change after diving. No correlation was found between serum tau protein concentration and the amount of VGE.Repeated diving to between 52-90 msw is associated with a statistically significant increase in serum tau protein concentration, which could indicate neuronal stress.

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