Objective: Hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S) has been reported to be a gasotransmitter which regulates cardiovascular homeostasis. The present study aims to examine the hypothesis that hydrogen sulfide is able to promote angiogenesis.
Methods: Angiogenesis was assessed using in vitro parameters (i.e. endothelial cell proliferation, adhesion, transwell migration assay, scratched wound healing and formation of tube-like structure) and in vivo by assessing neovascularization in mice. Phosphorylation of Akt was measured using Western blot analysis.
Results: Exogenously administered NaHS (H(2)S donor) concentration-dependently (10-20 micromol/l) increased cell growth, migration, scratched wound healing and tube-like structure formation in cultured endothelial cells. These effects of NaHS on endothelial wound healing and tube-like structure formation were prevented by either the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitor LY 294002 (5 micromol/l) or transfection of a dominant-negative mutant of Akt. NaHS increased Akt phosphorylation and this effect was also blocked by either LY 294002 or wortmannin (25 nmol/l). NaHS did not significantly alter the levels of vascular endothelial growth factor, mRNA expression of fibroblast growth factor and angiopoietin-1, or nitric oxide metabolites. NaHS treatment (10 and 50 micromol kg(-1) day(-1)) significantly promoted neovascularization in vivo in mice.
Conclusion: The present study reports a novel proangiogenic role of H(2)S which is dependent on activation of Akt.