Hydrogen sulfide and erectile function: a novel therapeutic target

Nat Rev Urol. 2011 May;8(5):286-9. doi: 10.1038/nrurol.2011.45. Epub 2011 Apr 5.


Hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S) is a gaseous transmitter involved in the control of vascular homeostasis. H(2)S is formed endogenously from L-cysteine or L-methionine by two enzymes, cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS) and cystathionine gamma-lyase (CSE), and normally circulates in blood. Studies from the past few years have demonstrated the involvement of H(2)S in erectile mechanisms in animal and human tissues. Exogenous H(2)S relaxes human and animal tissues in vitro and increases intracavernous pressure in experimental animal models. Electrical field stimulation studies on animal and human tissues have demonstrated that endogenous H(2)S is involved in the physiological control of penile tone. In humans, both CBS and CSE are widely expressed on trabecular muscle, implying that the smooth muscle component is the major source of H(2)S. Thus, the L-cysteine-H(2)S pathway may represent a promising target for development of new therapeutics for erectile dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Drug Delivery Systems / trends*
  • Erectile Dysfunction / drug therapy
  • Erectile Dysfunction / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / metabolism
  • Penile Erection / drug effects
  • Penile Erection / physiology
  • Pharmaceutical Preparations / administration & dosage


  • Pharmaceutical Preparations
  • Hydrogen Sulfide