Roles of hydrogen sulfide and nitric oxide in the alleviation of cadmium-induced oxidative damage in alfalfa seedling roots

Biometals. 2012 Jun;25(3):617-31. doi: 10.1007/s10534-012-9551-9. Epub 2012 Apr 27.


Despite hydrogen sulfide (H(2)S) and nitric oxide (NO) are important endogenous signals or bioregulators involved in many vital aspects of plant growth and responses against abiotic stresses, little information was known about their interaction. In the present study, we evaluated the effects of H(2)S and NO on alfalfa (Medicago sativa L.) plants exposed to cadmium (Cd) stress. Pretreatment with an H(2)S donor sodium hydrosulfide (NaHS) and well-known NO donor sodium nitroprusside (SNP) decreased the Cd toxicity. This conclusion was supported by the decreases of lipid peroxidation as well as the amelioration of seedling growth inhibition and Cd accumulation, in comparison with the Cd-stressed alone plants. Total activities and corresponding transcripts of antioxidant enzymes, including superoxide dismutase, peroxidase and ascorbate peroxidase were modulated differentially, thus leading to the alleviation of oxidative damage. Effects of H(2)S above were reversed by 2-(4-carboxyphenyl)-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl-3-oxide potassium salt (cPTIO), the specific scavenger of NO. By using laser confocal scanning microscope combined with Greiss reagent method, further results showed that NO production increased significantly after the NaHS pretreatment regardless of whether Cd was applied or not, all of which were obviously inhibited by cPTIO. These decreases of NO production were consistent with the exaggerated syndromes associated with Cd toxicity. Together, above results suggested that NO was involved in the NaHS-induced alleviation of Cd toxicity in alfalfa seedlings, and also indicated that there exists a cross-talk between H(2)S and NO responsible for the increased abiotic stress tolerance.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cadmium / toxicity*
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Medicago sativa / drug effects
  • Medicago sativa / metabolism*
  • Nitric Oxide / metabolism*
  • Nitroprusside / pharmacology
  • Plant Roots / drug effects
  • Plant Roots / metabolism*
  • Seedlings / drug effects*
  • Seedlings / metabolism*
  • Sulfides / pharmacology


  • Sulfides
  • Cadmium
  • Nitroprusside
  • Nitric Oxide
  • sodium bisulfide
  • Hydrogen Sulfide