Antitumor Activity of Protons and Molecular Hydrogen: Underlying Mechanisms

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Feb 20;13(4):893. doi: 10.3390/cancers13040893.


Understanding the structure and dynamics of the various hydrogen forms has been a subject of numerous studies. Protons (H+) and molecular hydrogen (H2) in the cell are critical in a wide variety of processes. A new cancer treatment uses H2, a biologically inactive gas. Due to its small molecular weight, H2 can rapidly penetrate cell membranes and reach subcellular components to protect nuclear DNA and mitochondria. H2 reduces oxidative stress, exerts anti-inflammatory effects, and acts as a modulator of apoptosis. Exogenous H2, administered by inhalation, drinking H2-rich water, or injecting H2-rich saline solution, is a protective therapy that can be used in multiple diseases, including cancer. In particle therapy, cyclotrons and synchrotrons are the accelerators currently used to produce protons. Proton beam radiotherapy (PBT) offers great promise for the treatment of a wide variety of cancers due to the sharp decrease in the dose of radiation at a defined point. In these conditions, H2 and different types of H2 donors may represent a novel therapeutic strategy in cancer treatment.

Keywords: antioxidant; cancer; molecular hydrogen.

Publication types

  • Review