Efficacy and Safety of Hydrogen Therapy in Patients with Early-Stage Interstitial Lung Disease: A Single-Center, Randomized, Parallel-Group Controlled Trial

Purpose: Several in vivo experiments have shown that molecular hydrogen is a promising therapeutic agent for interstitial lung diseases (ILD). In this study, hydrogen therapy was investigated to determine whether it is superior to N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) for the treatment of patients with early-stage ILD. Patients and methods: A prospective, single-center, randomized, controlled clinical trial was conducted in 87 patients with early-stage ILD. Hydrogen or NAC therapy was randomly assigned (1:1 ratio) to the eligible patients. The primary endpoint was the change in the high-resolution computed tomography (HRCT) and composite physiologic index (CPI) scores from baseline to week 48. Pulmonary function was evaluated as a secondary endpoint, and adverse events were recorded for safety analysis. Results: The rate of HRCT image improvement from the baseline in the HW group (63.6%) was higher than that in the NAC group (39.5%). A significant decrease in CPI and improvement in DLCO-sb were observed in the hydrogen group compared with those in the control group. Changes in other pulmonary function parameters, including FVC, FEV1, FEV1/FVC%, and TLC, were not significantly different between the two groups. Adverse events were reported in 7 (15.9%) patients in the HW group and 10 (23.3%) patients in the NAC group, but the difference was not significant (P=0.706). Conclusion: Hydrogen therapy exhibits superior efficacy and acceptable safety compared with NAC therapy in patients with early-stage ILD.