Hydrogen resuscitation, a new cytoprotective approach

Clin Exp Pharmacol Physiol. 2011 Mar;38(3):155-63. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1681.2011.05479.x.


1. Hydrogen is a colourless, odourless, tasteless and flammable gas. Hydrogen is considered a physiologically inert gas and is often used in deep sea diving medicine. In mammals, endogenous hydrogen is produced as a result of the fermentation of non-digestible carbohydrates by intestinal bacteria and it is absorbed into the systemic circulation. 2. Recent evidence indicates that hydrogen is a potent anti-oxidative, anti-apoptotic and anti-inflammatory agent and so may have potential medical application. The present review evaluates the concept of 'hydrogen resuscitation', based on knowledge that hydrogen treatment effectively protects cells, tissues and organs against oxidative injury and helps them recover from dysfunction. 3. Hydrogen therapy can be delivered by inhalation, the administration of hydrogen-enriched fluid or by approaches that affect endogenous hydrogen production. 4. Studies have shown that hydrogen resuscitation has cytoprotective effects in different cell types and disease models, including ischaemia-reperfusion injury, inflammation, toxicity, trauma and metabolic disease. The underlying mechanism may be the selective elimination of hydroxyl radicals, although other mechanisms may also be involved (e.g. hydrogen functioning as a gaseous signalling molecule). 5. Hydrogen resuscitation may have several potential advantages over current pharmacological therapies for oxidative injuries. However, more work is needed to identify the precise mechanism underlying the actions of hydrogen and to validate its therapeutic potential in the clinical setting.

Keywords: cytoprotective; hydrogen resuscitation; hydroxyl radical; oxidative injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antioxidants / pharmacology
  • Antioxidants / therapeutic use
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cytoprotection / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen / pharmacology*
  • Hydrogen / therapeutic use*
  • Reperfusion Injury / drug therapy


  • Antioxidants
  • Hydrogen