H2 gas enhances CD8+ T cells for improved lung cancer treatmentScientific Research

original title: Hydrogen gas activates coenzyme Q10 to restore exhausted CD8 + T cells, especially PD-1 + Tim3 + terminal CD8 + T cells, leading to better nivolumab outcomes in patients with lung cancer


Junji Akagi, Hideo Baba

Department of Surgery, Tamana Regional Health Medical Center, Kumamoto 865‑0005, Japan, Department of Gastroenterological Surgery Kumamoto University, Kumamoto 860‑8556, Japan

DOI: 10.3892/ol.2020.12121



As previously reported, hydrogen gas improves the prognosis of patients with cancer by restoring exhausted CD8+ T cells into active CD8+ T cells, possibly by activating mitochondria. As mitochondrial activators exhibit synergistic effects with nivolumab, the current study investigated whether hydrogen gas also affects the clinical outcomes of nivolumab. A total of 42 of 56 patients with lung cancer treated with nivolumab received hydrogen gas. Exhausted markers (PD-1 and Tim-3) on cell populations in the CD8+ T cell differentiation pathway were analyzed using flow cytometry. The concentration of coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) was measured as a marker of mitochondrial function. The 42 patients treated with hydrogen gas and nivolumab (HGN) indicated a significantly longer overall survival (OS) compared with those treated with nivolumab only (n=14). In multivariate analysis, PD-1+Tim-3+terminal CD8+ T cells (PDT+) were an independent poor prognostic factor in OS, and CoQ10 showed a tendency to be associated with improved OS. The change in the rate of PDT+ and CoQ10 after vs. before HGN (PDT+ ratio and CoQ10 ratio, respectively) revealed that patients with low PDT+ ratio (<0.81) and high CoQ10 ratio (>1.175) had significantly longer OS compared with those with high PDT+ ratio and low CoQ10 ratio. Furthermore, PDT+, with a significant reverse correlation with CoQ10, was significantly lower in patients with high CoQ10 and/or CoQ10 ratio than in those low CoQ10 and/or CoQ10. Hydrogen gas has been suggested to enhance the clinical efficacy of nivolumab by increasing CoQ10 (mitochondria) to reduce PDT+, with PDT+ and CoQ10 as reliable negative and positive biomarkers of nivolumab, respectively.

Original Publication