Background: Diabetes mellitus is associated with inadequate delivery of oxygen to tissues. Cellular hypoxia is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction which increases oxidative stress and hyperglycaemia. Hyperbaric oxygenation therapy, which was shown to improve insulin sensitivity, is impractical for regular use. We evaluated the effects of water which is stably-enriched with oxygen (ELO water) to increase arterial blood oxygen levels, on mitochondrial function in the presence of normal- or high-glucose environments, and as glucose-lowering therapy in humans.
Methods: We compared arterial blood oxygen levels in Sprague-Dawley rats after 7 days of ad libitum ELO or tap water consumption. Mitochondrial stress testing, and flow cytometry analysis of mitochondrial mass and membrane potential, were performed on human HepG2 cells cultured in four Dulbecco's Modified Eagle Medium media, made with ELO water or regular (control) water, at normal (5.5 mM) or high (25 mM) glucose concentrations. We also randomized 150 adults with type 2 diabetes (mean age 53 years, glycated haemoglobin HbA1c 8.9% [74 mmol/mol], average duration of diabetes 12 years) to drink 1.5 litres daily of bottled ELO water or drinking water.
Results: ELO water raised arterial oxygen tension pO2 significantly (335 ± 26 vs. 188 ± 18 mmHg, p = 0.006) compared with tap water. In cells cultured in control water, mitochondrial mass and membrane potential were both significantly lower at 25 mM glucose compared with 5.5 mM glucose; in contrast, mitochondrial mass and membrane potential did not differ significantly at normal or high glucose concentrations in cells cultured in ELO water. The high-glucose environment induced a greater mitochondrial proton leak in cells cultured in ELO water compared to cells cultured in control medium at similar glucose concentration. In type 2 diabetic adults, HbA1c decreased significantly (p = 0.002) by 0.3 ± 0.7% (4 ± 8 mmol/mol), with ELO water after 12 weeks of treatment but was unchanged with placebo.
Conclusions: ELO water raises arterial blood oxygen levels, appears to have a protective effect on hyperglycaemia-induced reduction in mitochondrial mass and mitochondrial dysfunction, and may be effective adjuvant therapy for type 2 diabetes.