Hydrogen (H2) acts as a therapeutic antioxidant. However, there are few reports on H2 function in other capacities in diabetes mellitus (DM). Therefore, in this study, we investigated the role of H2 in glucose transport by studying cultured mouse C2C12 cells and human hepatoma Hep-G2 cells in vitro, in addition to three types of diabetic mice [Streptozotocin (STZ)-induced type 1 diabetic mice, high-fat diet-induced type 2 diabetic mice, and genetically diabetic db/db mice] in vivo.
The results show that H2 promoted 2-[14C]-deoxy-d-glucose (2-DG) uptake into C2C12 cells via the translocation of glucose transporter Glut4 through activation of phosphatidylinositol-3-OH kinase (PI3K), protein kinase C (PKC), and AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK), although it did not stimulate the translocation of Glut2 in Hep G2 cells.
H2 significantly increased skeletal muscle membrane Glut4 expression and markedly improved glycemic control in STZ-induced type 1 diabetic mice after chronic intraperitoneal (i.p.) and oral (p.o.) administration. However, long-term p.o. administration of H2 had least effect on the obese and non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes mouse models. Our study demonstrates that H2 exerts metabolic effects similar to those of insulin and may be a novel therapeutic alternative to insulin in type 1 diabetes mellitus that can be administered orally.