Hydrogen Gas Protects Against Intestinal Injury in Wild Type But Not NRF2 Knockout Mice With Severe Sepsis by Regulating HO-1 and HMGB1 Release
The intestine plays an important role in the pathogenesis of sepsis. Hydrogen gas (H2), which has anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, and anti-apoptotic effects, can be effectively used to treat septic mice. Nuclear factor erythroid 2-related factor 2 (Nrf2) is a redox-sensitive master switch that regulates the expression of antioxidant and protective enzymes. This study investigated the effects of 2% H2 on intestinal injuries and the underlying mechanisms in a mouse model of severe sepsis. Male Nrf2 knockout mice (Nrf2-KO) and wild-type (WT) mice were randomized into four groups: sham, sham+H2, cecal ligation and puncture (CLP), and CLP+H2. The survival rate was observed and recorded within 7 days, and pro-inflammatory cytokines (TNF-α, IL-6, HMGB1), anti-inflammatory cytokine (IL-10), antioxidant enzymes (superoxide dismutase, and catalase ), and oxidative products (MDA, 8-iso-PGF2α) were detected in the serum and intestine using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. In addition, the protein and mRNA levels of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) were measured by Western blotting and quantitative PCR, respectively. Immunofluorescence and immunohistochemistry were used to measure HMGB1 and HO-1 release into the intestine, respectively. The results showed that therapy with 2% H2 increased the survival rate, alleviated the injuries caused by oxidative stress and inflammation, reduced HMGB1 levels but increased HO-1 levels in WT septic mice, but not in Nrf2-KO mice. These data demonstrate that 2% H2 inhalation may be a promising therapeutic strategy for intestinal injuries caused by severe sepsis through the regulation of HO-1 and HMGB1 release. In addition, Nrf2 plays a key role in the protective effects of H2 against intestinal damage in this disease.