The Science of Hydrogen and Health

Brain and Nervous System

Molecular hydrogen is protective against 6-hydroxydopamine-induced nigrostriatal degeneration in a rat model of Parkinson's disease    
Parkinson's disease is a neurological syndrome which causes the degeneration and death of brain cells.  In order to study this disease, scientists inject rats with 6-hydroxydopamine, a drug that is toxic only to specific ("nigrostriatal") brain cells.  This induces Parkinson's disease in the rats.  Scientists gave these rats hydrogen rich water and then analyzed their behavior to find that the hydrogen rich water "prevented both the development and progression of the nigrostrital degeneration."  They conclude the abstract by saying, "Our studies suggest that hydrogen water is likely able to retard the development and progression of Parkinson's disease."
Download this article from Neuroscience Letters  (Fu et al 2009)

Drinking hydrogen water and intermittent hydrogen gas exposure, but not lactulose or continuous hydrogen gas exposure, prevent 6-hydroxydopamine-induced Parkinson’s disease in rats
To follow up on the study (Fu et al) above, researchers tested whether taking lactulose would have effects similar to hydrogen rich water.  Lactulose is a synthetic sugar which cannot be digested by humans or rats.  It is digested by bacteria in our intestines, which produces a large amount of hydrogen.  They found that although lactulose did increase hydrogen levels in the breath of Parkinson's disease patients, it only marginally helped to prevent development of Parkinson's in rats given 6-hydroxydopamine.  

They also tested whether breathing a 2% mixture of hydrogen gas (intermittently or continuously) would have similar effects.  Continuous exposure to the gas had only marginal effects.  The effects of intermittent exposure varied, but were not as effective as drinking hydrogen rich water.
Download this article from Medical Gas Research  (Ito et al 2012)

Hydrogen in drinking water reduces dopaminergic neuronal loss in the 1-methyl-1-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine mouse model of Parkinson's disease
Parkinson's disease is a neurological syndrome that causes the degeneration and death of brain cells.  In order to study this disease, scientists inject mice with 1-methyl-1-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), a drug that destroys neurons which make or contain dopamine ("dopaminergic" neurons) in a specific part of the brain.  This induces Parkinson's disease in the mice.  Scientists began giving mice hydrogen-rich water 7 days before administering MPTP, they continued until the mice were sacrificed in order for their brains to be studied.  Then they compared the brains of those mice with others that had been given regular water.  They found that the mice who drank hydrogen-rich water had less damage to their dopaminergic neurons.  They conclude, "Our results indicated that low concentration of H2 in drinking water can reduce oxidative stress in the brain. Thus, drinking H2-containing water may be useful in daily life to prevent or minimize the risk of life style-related oxidative stress and neurodegeneration."
Download this article from Plos One (Fujita et al 2009)

Drinking Hydrogen Water Ameliorated Cognitive Impairment in Senescence-Accelerated Mice
Senescence is the process of growing older.  Aging changes the molecules and cells of the body, disrupts metabolism, and results in deterioration and death.  In order to study human aging, scientists have developed a strain of mice which develop age-related learning and memory impairments as early as 2 months of age, these are "Senescence-Accelerated Mice".  When these mice were given hydrogen rich water from the age of 8 weeks, they had less cognitive impairment than mice that drank regular water.  The scientists stated, "Oral intake of drinking water containing a high concentration of hydrogen is a novel, safe and potent approach for preventing aging-related cognitive disorders."  
Download this article from Journal of Clinical Biochemistry and Nutrition  (Gu et al 2010)

Consumption of molecular hydrogen prevents the stress-induced impairments in hippocampus-dependent learning tasks during chronic physical restraint in mice
This study investigated whether drinking hydrogen water ad libitum (as much as desired) can prevent cognitive impairment.  Scientists caused stress to mice by placing them in small cages, which completely restrict their movement for 10 hours a day, 6 days a week, for 8 weeks.  As a result of this stress, mice drinking regular water developed increased amounts of certain brain chemicals which indicate oxidative stress.  Mice given hydrogen-rich water throughout the whole period did not develop increased amounts of the same chemicals.  Tests were given to the mice to judge whether their learning and memory were impaired by the stress.  They found that consuming hydrogen water ad libitum significantly prevented or restored the decline in recognition and memory in stressed mice.  They did note however, that when mice were not stressed, drinking hydrogen water did not improve cognitive ability.  The study concludes that continuous consumption of hydrogen water reduces oxidative stress in the brain, and prevents the stress-induced decline in learning and memory caused by chronic physical restraint.
Download this article from Neuropshycopharmacology  (Nagata et al 2008)

Hydrogen-rich pure water prevents superoxide formation in brain slices of vitamin C-depleted SMP30/GNL knockout mice
Hydrogen is an established anti-oxidant that prevents acute oxidative stress. To clarify the mechanism of hydrogen’s effect in the brain, we administered hydrogen-rich pure water (H2) to senescence marker protein-30 (SMP30)/gluconolactonase (GNL) knockout (KO) mice, which cannot synthesize vitamin C (VC), also a well-known anti-oxidant. These KO mice were divided into three groups; recipients of H2, VC, or pure water (H2O), administered for 33 days. VC levels in H2 and H2O groups were <6% of those in the VC group. Subsequently, superoxide formation during hypoxia-reoxygenation treatment of brain slices from these groups was estimated by a real-time biography imaging system, which models living brain tissues, with Lucigenin used as chemiluminescence probe for superoxide. A significant 27.2% less super- oxide formed in the H2 group subjected to ischemia–reperfusion than in the H2O group. Thus hydrogen-rich pure water acts as an anti-oxidant in the brain slices and prevents superoxide formation.
Download this article from Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications  (Sato et al 2008)
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