Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a heterogeneous group of inherited retinal dystrophies characterized by progressive photoreceptor apoptosis. Reactive oxygen species (ROS) have been recognized as critical initiators of the photoreceptor apoptosis in RP. Photoreceptor survival in RP mutants will not only require the inhibition of effectors of apoptotic machinery, but also the elimination of the initiating upstream signals, such as ROS. These cytotoxic ROS should be neutralized by the antioxidant defense system, otherwise they would interact with the macromolecules essential for photoreceptor survival. Hydrogen is a promising gaseous agent that has come to the forefront of therapeutic research over the last few years. It has been verified that hydrogen is capable of neutralizing the cytotoxic ROS selectively, rectifying abnormities in the apoptotic cascades, and attenuating the related inflammatory response. Hydrogen is so mild that it does not disturb the metabolic oxidation-reduction reactions or disrupt the physiologic ROS involved in cell signaling. Based on these findings, the authors hypothesize that hydrogen might be an effective therapeutic agent to slow or prevent photoreceptor degeneration in RP retinas. It is a logical step to test hydrogen for therapeutic use in multiple RP animal models, and ultimately in human RP patients.
Tao Y, Geng L, Wang L, et al. Use of hydrogen as a novel therapeutic strategy against photoreceptor degeneration in retinitis pigmentosa patients. Med Sci Monit. 2016 Mar 8;22:776-9.