Are the effects of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors on cardiovascular events related to elevated levels of hydrogen gas in the gastrointestinal tract?

FEBS Lett. 2009 Jul 7;583(13):2157-9. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2009.05.052. Epub 2009 Jun 6.


The major side-effect of treatment with alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, flatulence, occurs when undigested carbohydrates are fermented by colonic bacteria, resulting in gas formation. We propose that the cardiovascular benefits of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are partly attributable to their ability to neutralise oxidative stress via increased production of H(2) in the gastrointestinal tract. Acarbose, which is an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, markedly increased H(2) production, with a weaker effect on methane production. Our hypothesis is based on our recent discovery that H(2) acts as a unique antioxidant, and that when inhaled or taken orally as H(2)-dissolved water it ameliorates ischaemia-reperfusion injury and atherosclerosis development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acarbose / metabolism
  • Acarbose / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / metabolism
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / metabolism
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / pharmacology*
  • Female
  • Flatulence / chemically induced
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / drug effects*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / metabolism*
  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • alpha-Glucosidases / metabolism


  • Antioxidants
  • Blood Glucose
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Glycoside Hydrolase Inhibitors
  • Hydrogen
  • alpha-Glucosidases
  • Acarbose