Role of Molecular Hydrogen in Ageing and Ageing-Related Diseases

Ageing is a physiological process of progressive decline in the organism function over time. It affects every organ in the body and is a significant risk for chronic diseases. Molecular hydrogen has therapeutic and preventive effects on various organs. It has antioxidative properties as it directly neutralizes hydroxyl radicals and reduces peroxynitrite level. It also activates Nrf2 and HO-1, which regulate many antioxidant enzymes and proteasomes. Through its antioxidative effect, hydrogen maintains genomic stability, mitigates cellular senescence, and takes part in histone modification, telomere maintenance, and proteostasis. In addition, hydrogen may prevent inflammation and regulate the nutrient-sensing mTOR system, autophagy, apoptosis, and mitochondria, which are all factors related to ageing. Hydrogen can also be used for prevention and treatment of various ageing-related diseases, such as neurodegenerative disorders, cardiovascular disease, pulmonary disease, diabetes, and cancer.

Role of Molecular Hydrogen in Ageing and Ageing-Related Diseases

Ageing represents a continuous risk of chronic noncommunicable diseases, such as neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular diseases (CVDs), diabetes, and cancer [5], although it is not the only factor. Over the past decades, the average human life expectancy has become substantially longer. In particular, the absolute number of elderly people has increased in many countries. Understanding the ageing mechanism and then further delaying the ageing process and the onset of age-related pathologies are of great importance.

Molecular hydrogen (H2) is a colorless, odorless gas and is the lightest among all gas molecules. Its therapeutic effect was first demonstrated in skin squamous carcinoma treatment. In some bacteria, H2 can be enzymatically catabolized as an electron source. It can also be a product of anaerobic metabolism. In mammalian cells that have no functional hydrogenase genes, it was determined to be an inert gas that does not react with any biological compounds. However, in 2007, investigators have discovered that H2 has antioxidant properties after selectively neutralizing hydroxyl radicals (•OH) and peroxynitrite (ONOO−) in cultured cells. It also prevented ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury and stroke in a rat model. To date, prosurvival properties of some antioxidants have been demonstrated in some disease models. H2 has been shown to improve lipid and glucose metabolism in patients with mild type 2 diabetes mellitus or impaired glucose tolerance. Moreover, a recent study has shown that hydrogen-rich water (HRW) intake favorably affected several ageing-related features in healthy elderly, including extended mean telomere length, and tended to improve DNA methylation. This review discusses the possible underlying mechanisms of H2 acting against ageing and its potential preventive and therapeutic applications in ageing-related diseases.

Below article reviews the basic research and recent application of hydrogen in order to support hydrogen use in medicine for ageing prevention and ageing-related disease therapy.

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