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FEBS Lett. 2009 Jul 7;583(13):2157-9. doi: 10.1016/j.febslet.2009.05.052. Epub 2009 Jun 6.

Are the effects of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors on cardiovascular events related to elevated levels of hydrogen gas in the gastrointestinal tract?

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Department of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Institute of Development and Aging Science, Graduate School of Medicine, Nippon Medical School, Kawasaki City, Japan.


The major side-effect of treatment with alpha-glucosidase inhibitors, flatulence, occurs when undigested carbohydrates are fermented by colonic bacteria, resulting in gas formation. We propose that the cardiovascular benefits of alpha-glucosidase inhibitors are partly attributable to their ability to neutralise oxidative stress via increased production of H(2) in the gastrointestinal tract. Acarbose, which is an alpha-glucosidase inhibitor, markedly increased H(2) production, with a weaker effect on methane production. Our hypothesis is based on our recent discovery that H(2) acts as a unique antioxidant, and that when inhaled or taken orally as H(2)-dissolved water it ameliorates ischaemia-reperfusion injury and atherosclerosis development.

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