Molecular Hydrogen Enhances Proliferation of Cancer Cells That Exhibit Potent Mitochondrial Unfolded Protein Response

Molecular hydrogen ameliorates pathological states in a variety of human diseases, animal models, and cell models, but the effects of hydrogen on cancer have been rarely reported. In addition, the molecular mechanisms underlying the effects of hydrogen remain mostly unelucidated. We found that hydrogen enhances proliferation of four out of seven human cancer cell lines (the responders). The proliferation-promoting effects were not correlated with basal levels of cellular reactive oxygen species. Expression profiling of the seven cells showed that the responders have higher gene expression of mitochondrial electron transport chain (ETC) molecules than the non-responders. In addition, the responders have higher mitochondrial mass, higher mitochondrial superoxide, higher mitochondrial membrane potential, and higher mitochondrial spare respiratory capacity than the non-responders. In the responders, hydrogen provoked mitochondrial unfolded protein response (mtUPR). Suppression of cell proliferation by rotenone, an inhibitor of mitochondrial ETC complex I, was rescued by hydrogen in the responders. Hydrogen triggers mtUPR and induces cell proliferation in cancer cells that have high basal and spare mitochondrial ETC activities.

Molecular hydrogen suppresses FcεRI-mediated signal transduction and prevents degranulation of mast cells

Molecular hydrogen ameliorates oxidative stress-associated diseases in animal models. We found that oral intake of hydrogen-rich water abolishes an immediate-type allergic reaction in mice. Using rat RBL-2H3 mast cells, we demonstrated that hydrogen attenuates phosphorylation of the FcεRI-associated Lyn and its downstream signal transduction, which subsequently inhibits the NADPH oxidase activity and reduces the generation of hydrogen peroxide. We also found that inhibition of NADPH oxidase attenuates phosphorylation of Lyn in mast cells, indicating the presence of a feed-forward loop that potentiates the allergic responses. Hydrogen accordingly inhibits all tested signaling molecule(s) in the loop. Hydrogen effects have been solely ascribed to exclusive removal of hydroxyl radical. In the immediate-type allergic reaction, hydrogen exerts its beneficial effect not by its radical scavenging activity but by modulating a specific signaling pathway. Effects of hydrogen in other diseases are possibly mediated by modulation of yet unidentified signaling pathways. Our studies also suggest that hydrogen is a gaseous signaling molecule like nitric oxide.

Molecular hydrogen is protective against 6-hydroxydopamine-induced nigrostriatal degeneration in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease

Molecular hydrogen serves as an antioxidant that reduces hydroxyl radicals, but not the other reactive oxygen and nitrogen species. In the past year, molecular hydrogen has been reported to prevent or ameliorate eight diseases in rodents and one in human associated with oxidative stress. In Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial dysfunction and the associated oxidative stress are major causes of dopaminergic cell loss in the substantia nigra. We examined effects of approximately 50%-saturated molecular hydrogen in drinking water before or after the stereotactic surgery on 6-hydroxydopamine-induced nigrostrital degeneration in a rat model of Parkinson’s disease. Methamphetamine-induced behavioral analysis showed that molecular hydrogen prevented both the development and progression of the nigrostrital degeneration. Tyrosine hydroxylase staining of the substantia nigra and striatum also demonstrated that pre- and post-treatment with hydrogen prevented the dopaminergic cell loss. Our studies suggest that hydrogen water is likely able to retard the development and progression of Parkinson’s disease.

Molecular hydrogen inhibits lipopolysaccharide/interferon γ-induced nitric oxide production through modulation of signal transduction in macrophages

Molecular hydrogen has been reported to be effective for a variety of disorders and its effects have been ascribed to the reduction of oxidative stress. However, we have recently demonstrated that hydrogen inhibits type I allergy through modulating intracellular signal transduction. In the present study, we examined the hydrogen effects on lipopolysaccharide/interferon γ LPS/IFNγ-induced nitric oxide (NO) production in murine macrophage RAW264 cells. Treatment with hydrogen reduced LPS/IFNγ-induced NO release, which was associated with a diminished induction of inducible isoform of nitric oxide synthase (iNOS). Hydrogen treatment inhibited LPS/IFNγ-induced phosphorylation of apoptosis signal-regulating kinase 1 (ASK1) and its downstream signaling molecules, p38 MAP kinase and JNK, as well as IκBα, but did not affect activation of NADPH oxidase and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS). As ROS is an upstream activator of ASK1, inhibition of ASK1 by hydrogen without suppressing ROS implies that a potential target molecule of hydrogen should be located at the receptor or immediately downstream of it. These results suggested a role for molecular hydrogen as a signal modulator. Finally, oral intake of hydrogen-rich water alleviated anti-type II collagen antibody-induced arthritis in mice, a model for human rheumatoid arthritis. Taken together, our studies indicate that hydrogen inhibits LPS/IFNγ-induced NO production through modulation of signal transduction in macrophages and ameliorates inflammatory arthritis in mice, providing the molecular basis for hydrogen effects on inflammation and a functional interaction between two gaseous signaling molecules, NO and molecular hydrogen.

Open-label trial and randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of hydrogen-enriched water for mitochondrial and inflammatory myopathies

Background: Molecular hydrogen has prominent effects on more than 30 animal models especially of oxidative stress-mediated diseases and inflammatory diseases. In addition, hydrogen effects on humans have been reported in diabetes mellitus type 2, hemodialysis, metabolic syndrome, radiotherapy for liver cancer, and brain stem infarction. Hydrogen effects are ascribed to specific radical-scavenging activities that eliminate hydroxyl radical and peroxynitrite, and also to signal-modulating activities, but the detailed molecular mechanisms still remain elusive. Hydrogen is a safe molecule that is largely produced by intestinal bacteria in rodents and humans, and no adverse effects have been documented. Methods: We performed open-label trial of drinking 1.0 liter per day of hydrogen-enriched water for 12 weeks in five patients with progressive muscular dystrophy (PMD), four patients with polymyositis/dermatomyositis (PM/DM), and five patients with mitochondrial myopathies (MM), and measured 18 serum parameters as well as urinary 8-isoprostane every 4 weeks. We next conducted randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover trial of 0.5 liter per day of hydrogen-enriched water or placebo water for 8 weeks in 10 patients with DM and 12 patients with MM, and measured 18 serum parameters every 4 weeks. Results: In the open-label trial, no objective improvement or worsening of clinical symptoms was observed. We, however, observed significant effects in lactate-to-pyruvate ratios in PMD and MM, fasting blood glucose in PMD, serum matrix metalloproteinase-3 (MMP3) in PM/DM, and serum triglycerides in PM/DM. In the double-blind trial, no objective clinical effects were observed, but a significant improvement was detected in lactate in MM. Lactate-to-pyruvate ratios in MM and MMP3 in DM also exhibited favorable responses but without statistical significance. No adverse effect was observed in either trial except for hypoglycemic episodes in an insulin-treated MELAS patient, which subsided by reducing the insulin dose. Conclusions: Hydrogen-enriched water improves mitochondrial dysfunction in MM and inflammatory processes in PM/DM. Less prominent effects with the double-blind trial compared to the open-label trial were likely due to a lower amount of administered hydrogen and a shorter observation period, which implies a threshold effect or a dose-response effect of hydrogen.

Drinking hydrogen water and intermittent hydrogen gas exposure, but not lactulose or continuous hydrogen gas exposure, prevent 6-hydorxydopamine-induced Parkinson’s disease in rats

Lactulose is a synthetic disaccharide that can be catalyzed only by intestinal bacteria in humans and rodents, and a large amount of hydrogen is produced by bacterial catalysis of lactulose. We previously reported marked effects of ad libitum administration of hydrogen water on prevention of a rat model of Parkinson’s disease (PD). End-alveolar breath hydrogen concentrations were measured in 28 healthy subjects and 37 PD patients, as well as in 9 rats after taking hydrogen water or lactulose. Six-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA)-induced hemi-PD model was stereotactically generated in rats. We compared effects of hydrogen water and lactulose on prevention of PD. We also analyzed effects of continuous and intermittent administration of 2% hydrogen gas. Hydrogen water increased breath hydrogen concentrations from 8.6 ± 2.1 to 32.6 ± 3.3 ppm (mean and SEM, n = 8) in 10 min in healthy subjects. Lactulose increased breath hydrogen concentrations in 86% of healthy subjects and 59% of PD patients. Compared to monophasic hydrogen increases in 71% of healthy subjects, 32% and 41% of PD patients showed biphasic and no increases, respectively. Lactulose also increased breath hydrogen levels monophasically in 9 rats. Lactulose, however, marginally ameliorated 6-OHDA-induced PD in rats. Continuous administration of 2% hydrogen gas similarly had marginal effects. On the other hand, intermittent administration of 2% hydrogen gas prevented PD in 4 of 6 rats. Lack of dose responses of hydrogen and the presence of favorable effects with hydrogen water and intermittent hydrogen gas suggest that signal modulating activities of hydrogen are likely to be instrumental in exerting a protective effect against PD.

Molecular hydrogen attenuates fatty acid uptake and lipid accumulation through downregulating CD36 expression in HepG2 cells

Background: There is accumulating evidence that obesity is closely associated with an impaired free fatty acid metabolism as well as with insulin resistance and inflammation. Excessive fatty acid uptake mediated by fatty acid translocase CD36 plays an important role in hepatic steatosis. Molecular hydrogen has been shown to attenuate oxidative stress and improve lipid, glucose and energy metabolism in patients and animal models of hepatic steatosis and atherosclerosis, but the underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown. Methods: Human hepatoma HepG2 cells were exposed to palmitate-BSA complex after treatment with or without hydrogen for 24 h. The fatty acid uptake was measured by using spectrofluorometry and the lipid content was detected by Oil Red O staining. JNK phosphorylation and CD36 expression were analyzed by Western blot and real-time PCR analyses. Results: Pretreatment with hydrogen reduced fatty acid uptake and lipid accumulation after palmitate overload in HepG2 cells, which was associated with inhibition of JNK activation. Hydrogen treatment did not alter CD36 mRNA expression but reduced CD36 protein expression. Conclusion: Hydrogen inhibits fatty acid uptake and lipid accumulation through the downregulation of CD36 at the protein level in hepatic cultured cells, providing insights into the molecular mechanism underlying the hydrogen effects in vivo on lipid metabolism disorders.

Maternal molecular hydrogen administration ameliorates rat fetal hippocampal damage caused by in utero ischemia-reperfusion

Molecular hydrogen (H2) scavenges hydroxyl radicals. Recently, H2 has been reported to prevent a variety of diseases associated with oxidative stress in model systems and in humans. Here, we studied the effects of H2 on rat fetal hippocampal damage caused by ischemia and reperfusion (IR) on day 16 of pregnancy with the transient occlusion of the bilateral utero-ovarian arteries. Starting 2 days before the operation, we provided the mothers with hydrogen-saturated water ad libitum until vaginal delivery. We observed a significant increase in the concentration of H2 in the placenta after the oral administration of hydrogen-saturated water to the mothers, with less placental oxidative damage after IR in the presence of H2. Neonatal growth retardation was observed in the IR group, which was alleviated by the H2 administration. We analyzed the neuronal cell damage in the CA1 and CA3 areas of the hippocampus at day 7 after birth by immunohistochemical analysis of the 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2׳-deoxyguanosine- and 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal-modified proteins. Both oxidative stress markers were significantly increased in the IR group, which was again ameliorated by the H2 intake. Last, 8-week-old rats were subjected to a Morris water maze test. Maternal H2 administration improved the reference memory of the offspring to the sham level after IR injury during pregnancy. Overall, the present results support the idea that maternal H2 intake helps prevent the hippocampal impairment of offspring induced by IR during pregnancy.

Simultaneous oral and inhalational intake of molecular hydrogen additively suppresses signaling pathways in rodents

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is an agent with potential applications in oxidative stress-related and/or inflammatory disorders. H2 is usually administered by inhaling H2-containing air (HCA) or by oral intake of H2-rich water (HRW). Despite mounting evidence, the molecular mechanism underlying the therapeutic effects and the optimal method of H2 administration remain unclear. Here, we investigated whether H2 affects signaling pathways and gene expression in a dosage- or dose regimen-dependent manner. We first examined the H2 concentrations in blood and organs after its administration and found that oral intake of HRW rapidly but transiently increased H2 concentrations in the liver and atrial blood, while H2 concentrations in arterial blood and the kidney were one-tenth of those in the liver and atrial blood. In contrast, inhalation of HCA increased H2 equally in both atrial and arterial blood. We next examined whether H2 alters gene expression in normal mouse livers using DNA microarray analysis after administration of HCA and HRW. Ingenuity Pathway Analysis revealed that H2 suppressed the expression of nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB)-regulated genes. Western blot analysis showed that H2 attenuated ERK, p38 MAPK, and NF-κB signaling in mouse livers. Finally, we evaluated whether the changes in gene expression were influenced by the route of H2 administration and found that the combination of both HRW and HCA had the most potent effects on signaling pathways and gene expression in systemic organs, suggesting that H2 may act not only through a dose-dependent mechanism but also through a complex molecular network.

Hydrogen ameliorates pulmonary hypertension in rats by anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant effects

Objective: The pathogenesis of pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) involves reactive oxygen species and inflammation. Beneficial effects of molecular hydrogen, which exerts both anti-inflammatory and antioxidative effects, have been reported for various pathologic conditions. We therefore hypothesized that molecular hydrogen would improve monocrotaline (MCT)-induced PAH in rats. Methods: Nineteen male Sprague-Dawley rats (body weight: 200-300 g) were divided into groups, receiving: (1) MCT + hydrogen-saturated water (group H); (2) MCT + dehydrogenized water (group M); or (3) saline + dehydrogenized water (group C). Sixteen days after substance administration, we evaluated hemodynamics, harvested the lungs and heart, and performed morphometric analysis of the pulmonary vasculature. Macrophage infiltration, antiproliferating cell nuclear antigen-positive cells, 8-hydroxy-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG)-positive cells, and expressions of phosphorylated signal transducers and activators of transcription-3 (STAT3) and nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) were evaluated immunohistochemically. Stromal cell-derived factor-1 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 expressions were evaluated by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction. Results: Pulmonary arterial hypertension was significantly exacerbated in group M compared to group C, but was significantly improved in group H. Vascular density was significantly reduced in group M, but not in group H. Adventitial macrophages, antiproliferating cell nuclear antigen – and 8-OHdG-positive cells, and stromal cell-derived factor-1 and monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 expressions were significantly increased in group M, but improved in group H. Expressions of phosphorylated STAT3 and NFAT were up-regulated in group M, but improved in group H. Conclusions: Molecular hydrogen ameliorates MCT-induced PAH in rats by suppressing macrophage accumulation, reducing oxidative stress and modulating the STAT3/NFAT axis.