Severe heart attack damage limited by hydrogen sulfide

Sep 19, 2007

Administering hydrogen sulfide (H2S) directly into the heart during a simulated heart attack significantly reduces the tissue and cell damage often seen in oxygen-starved organs, according to a new study from researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

H2S boosts post-heart-attack function by helping to minimize reperfusion injury, an unwanted side effect of restoring blood flow swiftly to hearts suffering from low oxygen, the study authors said.

In testing on mice, the H2S injection led to a 72 percent reduction in the amount of severe heart-tissue death after restoring normal oxygen and blood flow to mice hearts. The 72 percent reduction compares to a much larger average amount of tissue death in un-treated mice hearts after the same 30 minutes of oxygen deprivation.

Findings on the protective qualities of H2S have broad implications for improving human survival after cardiac arrest, heart transplant and trauma in general, said David Kraus, Ph.D., a UAB associate professor in the Departments of Environmental Health Sciences and Biology and co-author on the new study.

“One of the most damaging biological stresses on the heart and other organs from trauma or transplantation is the rapid change in oxygen levels,” Kraus said. “First there’s a drop, which elicits a dramatic cellular adjustment to survive low oxygen, and then a rapid rise caused by resuscitation.

“H2S as an internal bodily signal appears to serve as an important protective mechanism during the stress of low oxygen availability,” he said.

The study was published Sept. 18 in the online Early Edition of the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The UAB researchers worked with a team led by David Lefer, Ph.D. from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in Bronx, N.Y.

The tests were done by injecting H2S directly into the hearts of mice who had been anesthetized for surgery, and whose left ventricular artery had been clamped for 30 minutes to simulate a heart attack.

In addition to a decrease in heart-tissue death, H2S-treated mice hearts showed a 35 percent drop in blood-protein levels that signal myocardial damage, and a 26 percent drop in heart-tissue markers of inflammation when compared to un-treated mice hearts.

Furthermore, by isolating mitochondria from the H2S-treated mice, the authors confirmed that heart-cell functional integrity had been preserved. Recent reports from other researchers demonstrate that inhaled H2S can induce a fully reversible “suspended animation” state in animals.

Kraus said it follows that H2S could be used to place organs into “suspended animation” before surgery or during medical transport until normal oxygen and blood flow is restored. Also, by augmenting internal H2S production in the body, perhaps through diet, people may reduce their risks of cardiovascular disease, chronic oxidative cell damage and other illnesses, Kraus said.

H2S is normally considered a toxic, flammable gas that is responsible for the foul odor of rotten eggs. But in the UAB study it was carefully formulated into a low concentration saline-type solution.

Source: University of Alabama at Birmingham

Explore further: Growing a blood vessel in a week

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

US official: Auto safety agency under review

1 hour ago

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

1 hour ago

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

1 hour ago

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Recommended for you

Growing a blood vessel in a week

10 hours ago

The technology for creating new tissues from stem cells has taken a giant leap forward. Three tablespoons of blood are all that is needed to grow a brand new blood vessel in just seven days. This is shown ...

Testing time for stem cells

13 hours ago

DefiniGEN is one of the first commercial opportunities to arise from Cambridge's expertise in stem cell research. Here, we look at some of the fundamental research that enables it to supply liver and pancreatic ...

Team finds key signaling pathway in cause of preeclampsia

Oct 23, 2014

A team of researchers led by a Wayne State University School of Medicine associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology has published findings that provide novel insight into the cause of preeclampsia, the leading cause ...

Rapid test to diagnose severe sepsis

Oct 23, 2014

A new test, developed by University of British Columbia researchers, could help physicians predict within an hour if a patient will develop severe sepsis so they can begin treatment immediately.

User comments : 0