Front. Physiol., 20 December 2021
Sec. Redox Physiology
Volume 12 – 2021 |

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is an undetectable, colorless, and odorless gas that has demonstrated therapeutic potential in numerous animal studies and clinical trials. Recently, it has been recommended for inclusion in novel coronavirus pneumonia treatment guidelines in China. Due to its low molecular mass, H2 possesses the ability to rapidly diffuse and permeate cell membranes, leading to a diverse array of biological effects. Its application shows promise in the treatment and prevention of various acute and chronic inflammatory diseases, including acute pancreatitis, sepsis, respiratory ailments, ischemia-reperfusion injuries, and autoimmune diseases.

Administered primarily through inhalation, consumption of H2-rich water, or injection of H2 saline, H2 exhibits involvement in anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, mitochondrial energy metabolism, immune system regulation, and various forms of cell death, such as apoptosis, autophagy, and pyroptosis. This is achieved by neutralizing excess reactive oxygen species production and modulating nuclear transcription factors. Despite its recognized safety and potential efficacy, the underlying mechanism of H2 remains incompletely elucidated. Given its safety profile and promising therapeutic benefits, H2 holds considerable potential for clinical applications against a multitude of diseases. This review aims to delineate the antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and antiapoptotic effects of H2 and delve into its underlying mechanisms, with a specific focus on its role in coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19). The insights provided aim to offer strategic guidance for the medical utilization of H2 across various disease scenarios.



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