Introduction: Hydrogen (H2) has been reported to be effective in the treatment of oxidative injury, which plays an important role in the process of decompression sickness (DCS). This study was designed to test whether H2-rich saline (saline saturated with molecular hydrogen) protected rats against DCS.
Methods: Models of DCS were induced in male Sprague-Dawley rats weighing 300-310 g. H2-rich (0.86 mmol x L(-1)) saline was administered intraperitoneally (10 ml x kg(-1)) at 24 h, 12 h, immediately before compression, and right after fast decompression.
Results: H2-rich saline significantly decreased the incidence of DCS from 67.57 to 35.14% and partially counteracted the increases in the total concentration of protein in the bronchoalveolar lavage from 0.33 +/- 0.05 to 0.14 +/- 0.01 mg x ml(-1) (mean +/- SD; P < 0.05), myeloperoxidase activity from 0.86 +/- 0.16 to 0.44 +/- 0.13 U/g, levels of malondialdehyde (MDA) from 0.80 +/- 0.10 to 0.48 +/- 0.05 nmol x mg(-1), 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine from 253.7 +/- 9.3 to 191.2 +/- 4.8 pg x mg(-1) in the lungs, and MDA level from 1.77 +/- 0.20 to 0.87 +/- 0.23 nmol x mg(-1) in the spinal cord in rat DCS models. The histopathology results also showed that H2-rich saline ameliorated DCS injuries.
Discussion: It is concluded that H2-rich saline may have a protective effect against DCS, possibly due to its antioxidant action.