Two's company, three's a crowd: can H2S be the third endogenous gaseous transmitter?

FASEB J. 2002 Nov;16(13):1792-8. doi: 10.1096/fj.02-0211hyp.


Bearing the public image of a deadly "gas of rotten eggs," hydrogen sulfide (H2S) can be generated in many types of mammalian cells. Functionally, H2S has been implicated in the induction of hippocampal long-term potentiation, brain development, and blood pressure regulation. By acting specifically on KATP channels, H2S can hyperpolarize cell membranes, relax smooth muscle cells, or decrease neuronal excitability. The endogenous metabolism and physiological functions of H2S position this gas well in the novel family of endogenous gaseous transmitters, termed "gasotransmitters." It is hypothesized that H2S is the third endogenous signaling gasotransmitter, besides nitric oxide and carbon monoxide. This positioning of H2S will open an exciting field-H2S physiology-encompassing realization of the interaction of H2S and other gasotransmitters, sulfurating modification of proteins, and the functional role of H2S in multiple systems. It may shed light on the pathogenesis of many diseases related to the abnormal metabolism of H2S.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Carbon Dioxide / metabolism
  • Cardiovascular System / metabolism
  • Gases
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Models, Biological
  • Nervous System / metabolism
  • Neurotransmitter Agents / physiology*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism


  • Gases
  • Neurotransmitter Agents
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Nitric Oxide
  • Hydrogen Sulfide