Therapeutic applications of organosulfur compounds as novel hydrogen sulfide donors and/or mediators

Expert Rev Clin Pharmacol. 2011 Jan;4(1):123-33. doi: 10.1586/ecp.10.129.


Hydrogen sulfide, once considered as toxic gas, is now recognized as an important biological mediator. The deficiency of hydrogen sulfide could lead to various pathological changes, such as arterial and pulmonary hypertension, Alzheimer's disease, gastric mucosal injury and liver cirrhosis. However, excessive production of hydrogen sulfide, by using inorganic hydrogen sulfide donors such as NaHS, may contribute to the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases, septic shock, cerebral stroke and mental retardation in patients with Down syndrome. Therefore, an increasing interest in organic molecules that are capable of regulating the formation of hydrogen sulfide has extended in recent years. Allium vegetables are one natural source of organic sulfur-containing compounds and have been widely investigated regarding their therapeutic applications, and it has been proven that the ingredients of garlic, such as diallyl disulfide, diallyl trisulfide and S-ally cysteine act as hydrogen sulfide donors or mediators in pharmaceutical studies. In addition, S-propargyl cysteine (ZYZ-802) and S-propyl cysteine, two synthetic cysteine analogs, have been examined and could be used to treat ischemic heart disease via modulation of the hydrogen sulfide pathway. In addition, drugs containing hydrogen sulfide-releasing moieties have been synthesized and widely reported in recent years, such as S-nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and the derivative of Lawesson's reagents, which exhibit varied biological effects in experiments. As cystathionine β-synthase and cystathionine γ-lyase are the enzymes that are able to catalyze the production of endogenous hydrogen sulfide from cysteine, their inhibitors, such as dl-propylargylglycine and β-cyanoalanine, have been frequently used in studies on the biological mechanism of hydrogen sulfide. All these hydrogen sulfide donors, mediators and inhibitors have provided useful tools in the research of a variety of biological effects and are promising drug candidates of hydrogen sulfide.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Allium / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / metabolism
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal / therapeutic use
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / metabolism
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase / metabolism
  • Cysteine / metabolism
  • Cysteine / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / therapeutic use*
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / enzymology
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Sulfur Compounds / metabolism*
  • Sulfur Compounds / therapeutic use*


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents, Non-Steroidal
  • Sulfur Compounds
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase
  • Cystathionine gamma-Lyase
  • Cysteine
  • Hydrogen Sulfide