Hydrogen-water ameliorates radiation-induced gastrointestinal toxicity via MyD88’s effects on the gut microbiota

Although radiation therapy is a cornerstone of modern management of malignancies, various side effects are inevitably linked to abdominal and pelvic cancer after radiotherapy. Radiation-mediated gastrointestinal (GI) toxicity impairs the life quality of cancer survivors and even shortens their lifespan. Hydrogen has been shown to protect against tissue injuries caused by oxidative stress and excessive inflammation, but its effect on radiation-induced intestinal injury was previously unknown. In the present study, we found that oral gavage with hydrogen-water increased the survival rate and body weight of mice exposed to total abdominal irradiation (TAI); oral gavage with hydrogen-water was also associated with an improvement in GI tract function and the epithelial integrity of the small intestine. Mechanistically, microarray analysis revealed that hydrogen-water administration upregulated miR-1968-5p levels, thus resulting in parallel downregulation of MyD88 expression in the small intestine after TAI exposure. Additionally, high-throughput sequencing showed that hydrogen-water oral gavage resulted in retention of the TAI-shifted intestinal bacterial composition in mice. Collectively, our findings suggested that hydrogen-water might be used as a potential therapeutic to alleviate intestinal injury induced by radiotherapy for abdominal and pelvic cancer in preclinical settings.