ISSN: 2320-5407 Int. J. Adv. Res. 8(11), 216-219
Journal Homepage: -www.journalijar.com
DOI URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.21474/IJAR01/11998
EVOLUTION, ADAPTIVE STRESSORS AND MOLECULAR HYDROGEN
Alex T. Tarnava1,2
1. Drink HRW.
2. Natural Wellness Now Health Products Inc Unit C 60 Braid St, New Westminster, BC, Canada.
Manuscript Info Abstract
Received: 01 September 2020
Final Accepted: 05 October 2020
Published: Novem ber 2020
Molecular Hydrogen, Hormesis,
Mitochondria, Gaseous Signaling
Molecular hydrogen (H2) has demonstrated therapeutic properties
across numerous models. To date, the mechanism underlying the
beneficial responses to H2 exposure remains elusive. The initial
hypothesis that molecular hydrogen acts as a direct, selective
antioxidant in vivo does not reconcile models where H2 has shown to
increase oxidative stress, nor does it explain numerous other
physiological changes that have been observed throughout the
literature. Some researchers have proposed that H2 acts as a hormetic
stress. This hypothesis does not reconcile H2 being non-toxic in nature,
even at high doses. Hormetic stressors have contributed to evolutionary
adaptations, with the absence of these stressors causing cellular
dysfunction. H2 has played an intimate role in the evolution of our
planet’s atmosphere, the evolution of mitochondria and of life on the
planet. Endogenously produced H2 volumes vary dramatically between
individuals and are expected to have varied through human evolution.
Our cells have evolved to tolerate erratic and intermittent exposure to
H2. Intermittent exogenous H2 exposure yields results similar to various
hormetic stressors. Continued research elucidating how H2 acts as an
adaptive stressor, both through endogenous levels and exogenous
supplementation, are highly warranted.
Copy Right, IJAR, 2020,. All rights reserved.
The seminal article published in Nature Medicine in 2007 demonstrated potential therapeutic benefits of molecular
hydrogen (H2), attributing the results to direct scavenging of the hydroxyl radical (Ohsawa et al., 2007). This
attribution of mechanism of action does not resolve results demonstrating increases in oxidative stress (Hirayama et
al., 2019) or fully elucidate the significant observations in gene expression alteration (Nishiwaki et al, 2018). As
published results have broadened in therapeutic outcomes, researchers have been unable to determine the underlying
mechanisms, as it has long been believed that H2 is a physiologically inert, non-functional gas within our body
(Ohta, 2014). As research has progressed and empirical evidence has amassed, totalling an estimated 1500 unique
publications demonstrating its beneficial effects, with close to 100 of them having been conducted in humans, the
mechanisms by which H2 exerts its beneficial effects in the body continue to elude the research community
(Kawamura et al., 2020). Some researchers have hypothesized that when ingested H2 acts as a hormetic stress
(Murakami et al., 2017; Hirayama et al., 2019; LeBaron et al., 2019), but this hypothesis has not yet been reconciled
with what is known regarding the safety profile of H2, due to it being non-toxic in nature (LeBaron et al., 2019b).
Corresponding Author:- Alex T. Tarnava
Address:- Drink HRW.
ISSN: 2320-5407 Int. J. Adv. Res. 8(11), 216-219
Hormesis is typically defined as any intervention or process which exposes an organism to toxicity, producing a
biphasic response. Typically, exposure to low levels of a hormetic stressor yields a beneficial response, whereas
exposure to high levels produces a deleterious response. Conversely, exposure to H2 has typically demonstrated a
more beneficial response at higher doses. It is commonly accepted that correctly dosed hormetic stressors lead to
positive adaptations of the organism (Mattson, 2008). It has also been suggested that adaptive responses to hormetic
stressors have played a fundamental role in evolution (Mattson, 2009). In fact, the most commonly accepted forms
of hormesis to the human body, such as exercise (Radak et al., 2005), cold exposure (Le Bourg, 2007), heat
exposure (Rattan, 2005), fasting (Horne et al., 2015), caloric restriction (Masoro, 2007), radiation (Vaiserman, 2008)
and even ethanol (Parsons, 2001), all have been present throughout and can be explained by evolution, with the
likelihood that humans were exposed to variable levels of these stressors, often at high levels and in an erratic
manner, throughout the evolution of our species.
The role of H2 exposure as a beneficial form of hormesis can be reconciled when considering a different perspective
on how and why hormetic stressors positively impact cellular signalling (Calabrese, 2013). Since hormetic stressors
play both an adaptive role in our current physiology and have played a fundamental role in driving evolutionary
change, logic follows that we have evolved to anticipate and require adequate levels of stressors for our cellular
communication to operate harmoniously. This is corroborated by the known deleterious effects of the lack of
exercise-induced hormesis, defined as a sedentary lifestyle (Buford et al., 2010).
It is known that H2 has played an integral role in our evolution, with the “hydrogen hypothesis” being put forth to
explain the eukaryote origins of our mitochondria (Martin and Müller, 1998), which suggests that the first eukaryote
emerged from a symbiotic association between a hydrogen-dependent archaebacterium (the host) and eubacterium
(the symbiont) that was able to respire, but generated H2 as a waste product of anaerobic heterotrophic metabolism.
It is now commonly accepted that mitochondria and hydrogenosomes, which expel H2 as a waste product, share a
common evolutionary origin (Martin and Mentel, 2010). Moreover, it has been reported that the oldest water ever
discovered on our planet had measurable and significant levels of dissolved H2 gas (Lollar et al, 2014). Further, it is
recognized that H2 has played a pivotal role in our planet and atmosphere, with H2 escape leading to oxygenation
(Zahnle et al., 2018). It has also been known since the 1950s how critical H2 in the Earth’s atmosphere was for
promoting early life (Urey, 1952).
The human body produces up to 12L of hydrogen gas per day via bacterial breakdown of carbohydrates in the small
intestine (Ohno et al., 2012). It has recently been proposed that exercise-driven gut-microbial production of H2 gas is
a possible factor of metabolic health, (Ostojic, 2020) while inadequate endogenous H2 production may play a role in
development of Parkinson’s disease (Ostojic, 2018); moreover, it has been suggested that endogenously produced
H2 may serve in regulation of liver homeostasis (Zhang et al., 2020). In turn, exogenous supplementation with
hydrogen-rich water has been demonstrated to produce significant improvements in metabolic health (LeBaron et
al., 2020), protective effects against non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Korovljev et al., 2019) and improvements in
symptoms of Parkinson’s disease (Yoritaka et al., 2013) in human pilot research. Furthermore, it is possible that
endogenous production of H2 varies widely across individuals, depending on factors such as diet, and has varied
widely throughout our species evolution and history. Due to the intermittent and erratic access to carbohydrates prior
to the Neolithic revolution, it is likely that endogenous hydrogen production throughout most of our evolution was
also intermittent, with high doses followed by periods of deprivation and absence. This could shed an evolutionary
explanation on why consumption of hydrogen water, and intermittent hydrogen inhalation, were shown to be
effective in a rodent model of Parkinson’s Disease, but continuous H2 gas inhalation and additional endogenous
production via lactulose were not (Ito et al., 2012).
If humans have evolved and adapted to anticipate intermittent exposure to hydrogen gas, leading to spikes and drops
in cellular concentrations, optimal cellular communication may depend on this erratic change. As specific,
intermittent, and constantly changing dietary protocols would likely come with low compliance, exogenous H2
supplementation may be the answer to address these potential evolutionary adaptations. Determining the extent of
the importance of H2, both endogenous and exogenous, on our physiology, particularly regarding stress adaptation,
warrants well constructed exploratory research.
The author is employed by, and has financial interest in, commercial entities involved in the development and
distribution of molecular hydrogen products intended for therapeutic benefits.
ISSN: 2320-5407 Int. J. Adv. Res. 8(11), 216-219
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