Hydrogen sulphide inhibits Ca2+ release through InsP3 receptors and relaxes airway smooth muscle

J Physiol. 2013 Dec 1;591(23):5999-6015. doi: 10.1113/jphysiol.2013.257790. Epub 2013 Oct 21.


Hydrogen sulphide (H2S) is a signalling molecule that appears to regulate diverse cell physiological process in several organs and systems including vascular and airway smooth muscle cell (SMC) contraction. Decreases in endogenous H2S synthesis have been associated with the development of cardiovascular diseases and asthma. Here we investigated the mechanism of airway SMC relaxation induced by H2S in small intrapulmonary airways using mouse lung slices and confocal and phase-contrast video microscopy. Exogenous H2S donor Na2S (100 μm) reversibly inhibited Ca(2+) release and airway contraction evoked by inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) uncaging in airway SMCs. Similarly, InsP3-evoked Ca(2+) release and contraction was inhibited by endogenous H2S precursor l-cysteine (10 mm) but not by l-serine (10 mm) or either amino acid in the presence of dl-propargylglycine (PPG). Consistent with the inhibition of Ca(2+) release through InsP3 receptors (InsP3Rs), Na2S reversibly inhibited acetylcholine (ACh)-induced Ca(2+) oscillations in airway SMCs. In addition, Na2S, the H2S donor GYY-4137, and l-cysteine caused relaxation of airways pre-contracted with either ACh or 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT). Na2S-induced airway relaxation was resistant to a guanylyl cyclase inhibitor (ODQ) and a protein kinase G inhibitor (Rp-8-pCPT-cGMPS). The effects of H2S on InsP3-evoked Ca(2+) release and contraction as well as on the relaxation of agonist-contracted airways were mimicked by the thiol-reducing agent dithiothreitol (DTT, 10 mm) and inhibited by the oxidizing agent diamide (30 μm). These studies indicate that H2S causes airway SMC relaxation by inhibiting Ca(2+) release through InsP3Rs and consequent reduction of agonist-induced Ca(2+) oscillations in SMCs. The results suggest a novel role for endogenously produced H2S that involves the modulation of InsP3-evoked Ca(2+) release - a cell-signalling system of critical importance for many physiological and pathophysiological processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Calcium / physiology*
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / pharmacology*
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors / physiology*
  • Lung / drug effects*
  • Lung / physiology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Muscle Relaxation / drug effects
  • Muscle Relaxation / physiology
  • Muscle, Smooth / drug effects*
  • Muscle, Smooth / physiology


  • Inositol 1,4,5-Trisphosphate Receptors
  • Calcium
  • Hydrogen Sulfide