Article abstract

Nature Medicine 13, 688 - 694 (2007)
Published online: 7 May 2007 | doi:10.1038/nm1577

Hydrogen acts as a therapeutic antioxidant by selectively reducing cytotoxic oxygen radicals

Ikuroh Ohsawa1, Masahiro Ishikawa1, Kumiko Takahashi1, Megumi Watanabe1,2, Kiyomi Nishimaki1, Kumi Yamagata1, Ken-ichiro Katsura2, Yasuo Katayama2, Sadamitsu Asoh1 & Shigeo Ohta1

Acute oxidative stress induced by ischemia-reperfusion or inflammation causes serious damage to tissues, and persistent oxidative stress is accepted as one of the causes of many common diseases including cancer. We show here that hydrogen (H2) has potential as an antioxidant in preventive and therapeutic applications. We induced acute oxidative stress in cultured cells by three independent methods. H2 selectively reduced the hydroxyl radical, the most cytotoxic of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and effectively protected cells; however, H2 did not react with other ROS, which possess physiological roles. We used an acute rat model in which oxidative stress damage was induced in the brain by focal ischemia and reperfusion. The inhalation of H2 gas markedly suppressed brain injury by buffering the effects of oxidative stress. Thus H2 can be used as an effective antioxidant therapy; owing to its ability to rapidly diffuse across membranes, it can reach and react with cytotoxic ROS and thus protect against oxidative damage.

  1. Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Institute of Development and Aging Sciences, Graduate School of Medicine, Nippon Medical School, 1-396 Kosugi-cho, Nakahara-ku, Kawasaki City 211-8533, Japan.
  2. Department of Internal Medicine, Nippon Medical School, 1-1-5 Sendagi, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-8602, Japan.

Correspondence to: Shigeo Ohta1 e-mail:


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