Aberrant redox-sensitive reactions and accumulation of oxidative damage can impair body functions
and contribute to the development of various pathologies and aging. Although antioxidant substances have long
been recognized as a measure of alleviating oxidative stress and restoring redox balance, the arsenal of effective
means of preventing the development of various disorders, is still limited. There is an emerging field that utilizes
molecular hydrogen (H2) as a scavenger of free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Among the remarkable
characteristics of H2 is its ability to counteract the harmful effects of hydroxyl radical and peroxynitrite
without affecting the activity of functionally important ROS, such as hydrogen peroxide and nitric oxide.
The beneficial effects of H2 have been documented in numerous clinical studies and studies on animal models
and cell cultures. However, the established scavenging activity of H2 can only partially explain its beneficial
effects because the effects are achieved at very low concentrations of H2. Given the rate of H2 diffusion, such
low concentrations may not be sufficient to scavenge continuously generated ROS. H2 can also act as a signaling
molecule and induce defense responses. However, the exact targets and mechanism(s) by which H2 exerts
these effects are unknown. Here, we analyzed both positive and negative effects of the endogenous H2, identified
the redox-sensitive components of the pathways affected by molecular hydrogen, and also discussed the
potential role of molecular hydrogen in regulating cellular redox.
Keywords: Antioxidant, cellular redox, endogenous hydrogen gas, inflammation, molecular hydrogen, oxidative stress, reactive oxygen
species, redox signaling.
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