Serotonin and dopamine protect from hypothermia/rewarming damage through the CBS/H2S pathway

PLoS One. 2011;6(7):e22568. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0022568. Epub 2011 Jul 27.


Biogenic amines have been demonstrated to protect cells from apoptotic cell death. Herein we show for the first time that serotonin and dopamine increase H(2)S production by the endogenous enzyme cystathionine-β-synthase (CBS) and protect cells against hypothermia/rewarming induced reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and apoptosis. Treatment with both compounds doubled CBS expression through mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) and increased H(2)S production in cultured rat smooth muscle cells. In addition, serotonin and dopamine treatment significantly reduced ROS formation. The beneficial effect of both compounds was minimized by inhibition of their re-uptake and by pharmacological inhibition of CBS or its down-regulation by siRNA. Exogenous administration of H(2)S and activation of CBS by Prydoxal 5'-phosphate also protected cells from hypothermic damage. Finally, serotonin and dopamine pretreatment of rat lung, kidney, liver and heart prior to 24 h of hypothermia at 3°C followed by 30 min of rewarming at 37°C upregulated the expression of CBS, strongly reduced caspase activity and maintained the physiological pH compared to untreated tissues. Thus, dopamine and serotonin protect cells against hypothermia/rewarming induced damage by increasing H(2)S production mediated through CBS. Our data identify a novel molecular link between biogenic amines and the H(2)S pathway, which may profoundly affect our understanding of the biological effects of monoamine neurotransmitters.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cricetinae
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / genetics
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / metabolism*
  • Dopamine / pharmacology*
  • Dopamine Agents / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Hypothermia / drug therapy*
  • Hypothermia / etiology
  • Kidney / cytology
  • Kidney / drug effects
  • Kidney / enzymology
  • Male
  • Mesangial Cells / drug effects
  • Mesangial Cells / enzymology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / cytology
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / drug effects
  • Muscle, Smooth, Vascular / enzymology
  • RNA, Small Interfering / genetics
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Rewarming / adverse effects*
  • Serotonin / pharmacology*
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction / drug effects*


  • Dopamine Agents
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Serotonin Receptor Agonists
  • Serotonin
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase
  • Dopamine
  • Hydrogen Sulfide