Hydrogen sulfide: its production, release and functions

Amino Acids. 2011 Jun;41(1):113-21. doi: 10.1007/s00726-010-0510-x. Epub 2010 Feb 27.


Hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S), which is a well-known toxic gas, has been recognized as a signal molecule as well as a cytoprotectant. It is produced by three enzymes, cystathionine β-synthase, cystathionine γ-lyase and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase along with cysteine aminotransferase. In addition to an immediate release of H(2)S from producing enzymes, it can be stored as bound sulfane sulfur, which may release H(2)S in response to physiological stimuli. As a signal molecule, it modulates neuronal transmission, relaxes smooth muscle, regulates release of insulin and is involved in inflammation. Because of its reputation as a toxic gas, the function as a cytoprotectant has been overlooked: the nervous system and cardiovascular system are protected from oxidative stress. In this review, enzymatic production, release mechanism and functions of H(2)S are focused on.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / metabolism
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase / metabolism
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Homocysteine / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Sulfurtransferases / metabolism


  • Homocysteine
  • Sulfurtransferases
  • 3-mercaptopyruvate sulphurtransferase
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase
  • Cysteine
  • Hydrogen Sulfide