Background: Hydrogen-rich water (HRW) has been shown to prevent cognitive impairment caused by ionizing radiation. This study aimed to investigate the pharmacological effects and mechanisms of HRW on ionizing radiation by coupling the brain metabolomics and biological target network methods. Methods and results: HRW significantly improves the cognitive impairment in rats exposed to ionizing radiation. Based on metabolomics and biological network results, we identified 54 differential metabolites and 93 target genes. The KEGG pathway indicates that glutathione metabolism, ascorbic acid and aldehyde acid metabolism, pentose and glucuronic acid interconversion, and glycerophospholipid metabolism play important roles in ionizing radiation therapy. Conclusion: Our study has systematically elucidated the molecular mechanism of HRW against ionizing radiation, which can be mediated by modulating targets, pathways and metabolite levels. This provides a new perspective for identifying the underlying pharmacological mechanism of HRW. Keywords: Biological network; Brain tissue metabolomics; Hydrogen-rich water; Ionizing radiation.
The goal of this work was to determine whether hydrogen-rich water (HRW) could attenuate radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction in rats and to explore the underlying mechanisms. Rats received 30 Gy whole-brain irradiation using a 6-MeV electron beam. Either purified water or HRW (0.8-0.9 ppm) was administrated at 10 min prior to irradiation, as well as a daily HRW treatment after irradiation for 30 consecutive days. The Morris water maze was used to test spatial memory in the rats. The concentration of glutathione (GSH), malondialdehyde (MDA), 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) and the super-oxidedismutase (SOD) activity in cerebral cortex, as well as brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) level in serum, were measured. Immunofluorescence staining was adopted to detect proliferating cells. The expression of BDNF-TrkB pathway-related genes and proteins were detected using qRT-PCR and Western blot. Models of cognitive dysfunction were successfully established using a 30 Gy dose of ionizing radiation. Compared to the radiation treated group, the radiation-HRW treated group showed significantly decreased escape latency (P < 0.05), but increased retention time, swimming distance of original platform quadrant (P < 0.05) and number of platform crossings (P < 0.05). Furthermore, the SOD, GSH (P < 0.05) and BDNF (P < 0.05) levels in the radiation-HRW treated group were higher compared to the radiation treated group. The MDA and 8-OHdG levels (P < 0.05) were decreased in the radiation-HRW treated group when compared to the radiation treated group. Additionally, treatment with HRW increased the number of BrdU+NeuN+ cells in the radiation treated group. The mRNA and protein levels of BDNF and TrkB (P < 0.05) in radiation-HRW treated group was higher than that in the radiation treated group. Collectively, our study indicates that HRW has a protective effect on radiation-induced cognitive dysfunction, and that the possible mechanisms mainly involve anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory reactions, and its protection of newborn neurons by regulating the BDNF-TrkB signaling pathway.