The effect of inhalation of hydrogen-containing gas (1.3% hydrogen + 20.8% oxygen + 77.9% nitrogen) (HCG) on radiation-induced dermatitis and on the healing of healing-impaired skin wounds in rats was examined using a rat model of radiation-induced skin injury. An X-ray dose of 20 Gy was irradiated onto the lower part of the back through two holes in a lead shield. Irradiation was performed before or after inhalation of HCG for 2 h.
Inhalation of HCG significantly reduced the severity of radiodermatitis and accelerated healing-impaired wound repair. Staining with terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated dUTP nick-end labeling (TUNEL) and 8-hydroxy-2(‘)-deoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) showed that the proportion of apoptotic keratinocytes and the level of staining in the X-irradiated skin of rats that pre-inhaled HCG were significantly lower than that of rats which did not pre-inhale HCG.
Cutaneous full-thickness wounds were then created in the X-irradiated area to examine the time-course of wound healing. X-irradiation significantly increased the time required for wound healing, but the inhalation of HCG prior to the irradiation significantly decreased the delay in wound healing compared with the control and post-inhalation of HCG groups. Therefore, radiation-induced skin injury can potentially be alleviated by the pre-inhalation of HCG.