NIH Library of Medicine PubMed Central
Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a gas with physiological inertness. Despite this, over the past decade, increasing evidence has unveiled its biological functions, particularly under pathological conditions. H2 exhibits protective effects against various diseases, notably those related to the nervous system, such as ischemia/reperfusion injury, traumatic injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, neuropathic pain, neurodegenerative diseases, cognitive dysfunction resulting from surgery and anesthesia, anxiety, and depression. Its protective roles primarily involve anti-oxidation, anti-inflammation, anti-apoptosis, regulation of autophagy, and preservation of mitochondrial function and the blood-brain barrier. Furthermore, H2 is user-friendly, and its neuroprotective effects come with minimal side effects, suggesting its potential as a therapeutic strategy in clinical settings. This summary encompasses H2 donors and their pharmacokinetics, reviewing the effectiveness and safety of H2 in treating various nervous system diseases based on preclinical and clinical studies. The findings lead to the conclusion that H2 can be a straightforward and effective clinical therapy for CNS diseases like ischemia-reperfusion brain injury, Parkinson’s disease, and conditions characterized by cognitive dysfunction. The potential mechanisms contributing to the neuroprotective effect of H2 are also explored.
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