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J Hazard Mater. 2013 Sep 15;260:715-24. doi: 10.1016/j.jhazmat.2013.06.032. Epub 2013 Jun 21.

Alleviation of cadmium toxicity in Medicago sativa by hydrogen-rich water.

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College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Agricultural University, Nanjing 210095, China.


Hydrogen gas (H₂) induces plant tolerance to several abiotic stresses, including salinity and paraquat exposure. However, the role of H₂ in cadmium (Cd)-induced stress amelioration is largely unknown. Here, pretreatment with hydrogen-rich water (HRW) was used to characterize physiological roles and molecular mechanisms of H₂ in the alleviation of Cd toxicity in alfalfa plants. Our results showed that the addition of HRW at 10% saturation significantly decreased contents of thiobarbituric acid reactive substances (TBARS) caused by Cd, and inhibited the appearance of Cd toxicity symptoms, including the improvement of root elongation and seedling growth. These responses were related to a significant increase in the total or isozymatic activities of representative antioxidant enzymes, or their corresponding transcripts. In vivo imaging of reactive oxygen species (ROS), and the detection of lipid peroxidation and the loss of plasma membrane integrity provided further evidence for the ability of HRW to improve Cd tolerance significantly, which was consistent with a significant enhancement of the ratio of reduced/oxidized (homo)glutathione ((h)GSH). Additionally, plants pretreated with HRW accumulated less amounts of Cd. Together, this study suggested that the usage of HRW could be an effective approach for Cd detoxification and could be explored in agricultural production systems.


Alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) roots; Cadmium toxicity; Glutathione homeostasis; Hydrogen gas; Oxidative stress

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