The intestine plays an important role in the pathogenesis of sepsis. Hydrogen gas (H2), which has anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic effects, can be effectively used to treat septic mice. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a redox-sensitive master switch that regulates the expression of antioxidant and protective enzymes. This study investigated the effects of 2% H2 on intestinal injuries and the underlying mechanisms in a mouse model of severe sepsis. Male Nrf2 knockout mice (Nrf2-KO) and wild-type (WT) mice were randomized into four groups: sham, sham+H2, cecal ligation and puncture (CLP), and CLP+H2. The survival rate was observed and recorded within 7 days, and pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, HMGB1), anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10), antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, and catalase), and oxidative products (MDA, 8-iso-PGF2α) were detected in the serum and intestine using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In addition, the protein and mRNA levels of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) were measured by Western blotting and quantitative PCR, respectively. Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry were used to measure HMGB1 and HO-1 release into the intestine, respectively. The results showed that therapy with 2% H2 increased the survival rate, alleviated the injuries caused by oxidative stress and inflammation, reduced HMGB1 levels but increased HO-1 levels in WT septic mice, but not in Nrf2-KO mice. These data demonstrate that 2% H2 inhalation may be a promising therapeutic strategy for intestinal injuries caused by severe sepsis through the regulation of HO-1 and HMGB1 release. In addition, Nrf2 plays a key role in the protective effects of H2 against intestinal damage in this disease.
Yu Y, Yang Y, Bian Y, et al. Hydrogen gas protects against intestinal injury in wild type but not NRF2 knockout mice with severe sepsis by regulating HO-1 and HMGB1 release. Shock. 2017 Sep;48(3):364-370.