Scientific Studies

Skin and Radiation

Our recent studies suggest that H2 (hydrogen) has a potential as a novel radioprotector without known toxic side effects. The present study was designed to examine the underlying radioprotective mechanism of H2 and its protective role on irradiated germ cells. Produced by the Fenton reaction and radiolysis of H2O, hydroxyl radicals (•OH) were identified as the free radical species that were reduced by H2. We used a H2 microelectrode to dynamically detect H2 concentration in vivo, and found H2 significantly reduced in situ fluorescence intensity of hydroxyphenyl fluorescein; however, as we treated the mice with H2 after irradiation, the decrease is not significant. We found that pre-treatment of H2 to IR (ionizing radiation) significantly suppressed the reaction of •OH and the cellular macromolecules which caused lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyl and oxidatively damaged DNA. The radioprotective effect of H2 on male germ cells was supported by ameliorated apoptotic findings examined by morphological changes and TUNEL (terminal deoxynucleotidyltransferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labelling) in testicular tissue, and by preserved viability of stem spermatogonia examined for testicular histological parameters, daily sperm production and sperm quality; we used WR-2721 [S-2-(3-aminopropylamino)ethyl phosphorothioic acid] as a reference compound. Our results represent the first in vivo evidence in support of a radioprotective role of H2 by neutralizing •OH in irradiated tissue with no side effects.


Recent studies show that molecular hydrogen (dihydrogen, H2) has potential as an effective and safe radioprotective agent through reducing oxidative stress. The aim of this study was to investigate whether H2 is able to protect spermatogenesis and hematopoiesis from radiation-induced injuries.


H2 was dissolved in physiological saline using an apparatus produced by our department. -60Co-gamma rays in the irradiation centre were used for irradiation. Spermatid head counts and histological analysis were used to evaluate spermatogenesis. Endogenous hematopoietic spleen colony formation (endoCFUs), bone marrow nucleated cells (BMNC) and peripheral blood (PB) leukocytes were used to evaluate hemopoiesis.


This study demonstrates that treating mice with H2 before ionizing radiation (IR) can increase the spermatid head count and protect seminiferous epithelium from IR. This study also demonstrates that H2 could significantly increase the number of endoCFUs, BMNC and PB leukocyte.


This study suggests that hydrogen-rich saline could partially protect spermatogenesis and hematopoiesis in irradiated mice.


Deep burn wounds undergo a dynamic process known as wound progression that results in a deepening and extension of the initial burn area. The zone of stasis is more likely to develop more severe during wound progression in the presence of hypoperfusion. Hydrogen has been reported to alleviate injury triggered by ischaemia/reperfusion and burns in various organs by selectively quenching oxygen free radicals. The aim of this study was to investigate the possible protective effects of hydrogen against early burn-wound progression.


Deep-burn models were established through contact with a boiled, rectangular, brass comb for 20 s. Fifty-six Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly divided into sham, burn plus saline, and burn plus hydrogen-rich saline (HS) groups with sacrifice and analysis at various time windows (6 h, 24 h, 48 h) post burn. Indexes of oxidative stress, apoptosis and autophagy were measured in each group. The zone of stasis was evaluated using immunofluorescence staining, ELISA, and Western blot to explore the underlying effects and mechanisms post burn.


The burn-induced increase in malondialdehyde was markedly reduced with HS, while the activities of endogenous antioxidant enzymes were significantly increased. Moreover, HS treatment attenuated increases in apoptosis and autophagy postburn in wounds, according to the TUNEL staining results and the expression analysis of Bax, Bcl-2, caspase-3, Beclin-1 and Atg-5 proteins. Additionally, HS lowered the level of myeloperoxidase and expression of TNF-α, IL-1β, and IL-6 in the zone of stasis while augmenting IL-10. The elevated levels of Akt phosphorylation and NF-κB p65 expression post burn were also downregulated by HS management.


Hydrogen can attenuate early wound progression following deep burn injury. The beneficial effect of hydrogen was mediated by attenuating oxidative stress, which inhibited apoptosis and inflammation, and the Akt/NF-κB signalling pathway may be involved in regulating the release of inflammatory cytokines.