Hydrogen sulfide (Rotten egg gas) could aid recovery from heart complications caused by diabetes

Emobileclinic Researchers Corner 


One of the complications associated with diabetes is heart problems. Several efforts have been made in the past to reduce the extent of the complications associated with diabetes to no avail. However, in a research led by researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School, published in the Pharmacological Research Journal, it was found that foul smelling hydrogen gas (found in egg) could offer the long awaited remedy for the recovery of diabetes patients from common heart and blood vessels complications.


The study indicates that the drugs AP39 and AP123 could help prevent sugar (glucose) from damaging endothelial cells, which line blood vessels and form an interface that regulates the exchanges of materials such as oxygen and food metabolites between blood and surrounding tissue.

It is common knowledge that there is high glucose level in the blood of any diabetes patients which causes mitochondria which in turn produces highly toxic metabolites of oxygen (free radicals). The resulting toxicity to the mitochondria in the endothelial cells damages blood vessels in the circulation and the heart. This can deprive organs of the blood they need to function, potentially resulting in kidney disease or retinopathy, which cause blindness.

The research further said that using endothelial cells isolated from the small blood vessels in the brains of mice and carefully targeting minute quantities of hydrogen sulfide to the mitochondria inside cells using AP39 or AP123 restored the efficiency of the mitochondria and prevented hyperglycaemia which induced build up of free radicals. The team found that the effects of the drugs were long-lasting, suggesting that they could help to treat heart problems and blood vessel complications that occur in the heart, kidney and eyes of people with diabetes.

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According to the team leader, Prof Matthew Whiteman, of the University of Exeter Medical he said they are “producing a growing body of evidence that hydrogen sulfide can have a range of health benefits, when carefully administered in minute doses in a highly targeted way in the body. Mitochondria can even make their own hydrogen sulfide and use it as a ‘fuel’ to keep metabolism efficient. When this ‘fuel’ is lost, mitochondria, cells, blood vessels and tissues are damaged.” He added that they have previously showed that replacing the lost hydrogen sulfide with AP39 reversed this damage in cardiac arrest, hypertension and kidney failure damage and this current study adds AP123 to their portfolio of promising new drugs for diabetes.

He stressed further that “some people find it amusing that a substance with such a bad reputation can produce these benefits, but nearly every cell in our body makes and responds to tiny amounts of hydrogen sulfide and we have at least three distinct pathways for making this gas in very small quantities so it is very important. We must now continue working hard towards taking our findings forward in humans”.





Matthew Whiteman, et.al (2016): The novel mitochondria-targeted hydrogen sulfide (H2S) donors AP123 and AP39 protect against hyperglycemic injury in microvascular endothelial cells in vitro. Pharmacological Research Journal, doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2016.08.019

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