Hydrogen is a colorless, odorless, tasteless and flammable gas. Hydrogen is considered a physiologically inert gas and is often used in deep-sea diving medicine. In mammals, endogenous hydrogen is produced as a result of the fermentation of non-digestible carbohydrates by intestinal bacteria and it is absorbed into the systemic circulation. Recent evidence indicates that hydrogen is a potent anti-oxidative, anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory agent and so may have potential medical application. The present review evaluates the concept of ‘hydrogen resuscitation’, based on knowledge that hydrogen treatment effectively protects cells, tissues and organs against oxidative injury and help them recover from dysfunction. Hydrogen therapy can be delivered by inhalation, the administration of hydrogen-enriched fluid or by approaches that affect endogenous hydrogen production. Studies have shown that hydrogen resuscitation has cytoprotective effects in different cell types and disease models including ischemia-reperfusion injury, inflammation, toxicity, trauma, metabolic disease, etc. The underlying mechanism may be the selective elimination of hydroxyl radicals, although other mechanisms may also be involved (e.g. hydrogen functioning as a gaseous signaling molecule). Hydrogen resuscitation may have several potential advantages over current pharmacological therapies for the oxidative injuries. However, more work is needed to identify the precise mechanism underlying the actions of hydrogen and to validate its therapeutic potential in the clinical setting.
Zheng XF, Sun XJ, Xia ZF. Hydrogen resuscitation, a new cytoprotective approach. Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2001 March;38(3):155-163.