Carbon monoxide: impact on remethylation/transsulfuration metabolism and its pathophysiologic implications

J Mol Med (Berl). 2012 Mar;90(3):245-54. doi: 10.1007/s00109-012-0875-2. Epub 2012 Feb 14.


Carbon monoxide (CO) is a gaseous product generated by heme oxygenase (HO), which oxidatively degrades heme. While the stress-inducible HO-1 has well been recognized as an anti-oxidative defense mechanism under stress conditions, recent studies suggest that cancer cells utilize the reaction for their survival. HO-2, the constitutive isozyme, also plays protective roles as a tonic regulator for neurovascular function. Although protective roles of the enzyme reaction and CO have extensively been studied, little information is available on the molecular mechanisms by which the gas exerts its biological actions. Recent studies using metabolomics revealed that CO inhibits cystathionine β-synthase (CBS), which generates H(2)S, another gaseous mediator. The CO-dependent CBS inhibition may impact on the remethylation cycle and related metabolic pathways including the methionine salvage pathway and polyamine synthesis. This review focuses on the gas-responsive regulation of metabolic systems, particularly the remethylation and transsulfuration pathways, and their putative implications for cancer and ischemic diseases.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carbon Monoxide / metabolism*
  • Carbon Monoxide / pharmacology
  • Carbon Monoxide / physiology
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase / metabolism
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing) / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism
  • Methylation / drug effects*
  • Myocardial Ischemia / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Sulfur / metabolism*


  • Sulfur
  • Carbon Monoxide
  • Heme Oxygenase (Decyclizing)
  • Cystathionine beta-Synthase
  • Hydrogen Sulfide