Recent extensive studies have revealed that molecular hydrogen (H(2)) has great potential for improving oxidative stress-related diseases by inhaling H(2) gas, injecting saline with dissolved H(2), or drinking water with dissolved H(2) (H(2)-water); however, little is known about the dynamic movement of H(2) in a body. First, we show that hepatic glycogen accumulates H(2) after oral administration of H(2)-water, explaining why consumption of even a small amount of H(2) over a short span time efficiently improves various disease models. This finding was supported by an in vitro experiment in which glycogen solution maintained H(2). Next, we examined the benefit of ad libitum drinking H(2)-water to type 2 diabetes using db/db obesity model mice lacking the functional leptin receptor. Drinking H(2)-water reduced hepatic oxidative stress, and significantly alleviated fatty liver in db/db mice as well as high fat-diet-induced fatty liver in wild-type mice. Long-term drinking H(2)-water significantly controlled fat and body weights, despite no increase in consumption of diet and water. Moreover, drinking H(2)-water decreased levels of plasma glucose, insulin, and triglyceride, the effect of which on hyperglycemia was similar to diet restriction. To examine how drinking H(2)-water improves obesity and metabolic parameters at the molecular level, we examined gene-expression profiles, and found enhanced expression of a hepatic hormone, fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21), which functions to enhance fatty acid and glucose expenditure. Indeed, H(2) stimulated energy metabolism as measured by oxygen consumption. The present results suggest the potential benefit of H(2) in improving obesity, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
We previously reported that molecular hydrogen (H2) acts as a novel antioxidant to exhibit multiple functions. Moreover, long-term drinking of H2-water (water infused with H2) enhanced energy expenditure to improve obesity and diabetes in db/db mice accompanied by the increased expression of fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) by an unknown mechanism. H2 was ingested by drinking of H2-water or by oral administration of an H2-producing material, MgH2. The comprehensive gene expression profile in the liver of db/db mice was analyzed by DNA microarray. The molecular mechanisms underlying the gene expression profile was investigated using cultured HepG2 cells. Moreover, the effects on lifespan of drinking H2-water were examined using wild-type mice that were fed a fatty diet. Pathway analyses based on comprehensive gene expression revealed the increased expression of various genes involved in fatty acid and steroid metabolism. As a transcription pathway, the PPARα signaling pathway was identified to upregulate their genes by ingesting H2. As an early event, the gene expression of PGC-1α was transiently increased, followed by increased expression of FGF21. The expression of PGC-1α might be regulated indirectly through sequential regulation by H2, 4-hydroxy-2-nonenal, and Akt/FoxO1 signaling, as suggested in cultured cell experiments. In wild-type mice fed the fatty diet, H2-water improved the level of plasma triglycerides and extended their average of lifespan. H2 induces expression of the PGC-1α gene, followed by stimulation of the PPARα pathway that regulates FGF21, and the fatty acid and steroid metabolism.