Hydrogen sulfide in physiology and pathogenesis of bacteria and viruses

IUBMB Life. 2018 May;70(5):393-410. doi: 10.1002/iub.1740. Epub 2018 Mar 30.


An increasing number of studies have established hydrogen sulfide (H2 S) gas as a major cytoprotectant and redox modulator. Following its discovery, H2 S has been found to have pleiotropic effects on physiology and human health. H2 S acts as a gasotransmitter and exerts its influence on gastrointestinal, neuronal, cardiovascular, respiratory, renal, and hepatic systems. Recent discoveries have clearly indicated the importance of H2 S in regulating vasorelaxation, angiogenesis, apoptosis, ageing, and metabolism. Contrary to studies in higher organisms, the role of H2 S in the pathophysiology of infectious agents such as bacteria and viruses has been less studied. Bacterial and viral infections are often accompanied by changes in the redox physiology of both the host and the pathogen. Emerging studies indicate that bacterial-derived H2 S constitutes a defense system against antibiotics and oxidative stress. The H2 S signaling pathway also seems to interfere with redox-based events affected on infection with viruses. This review aims to summarize recent advances on the emerging role of H2 S gas in the bacterial physiology and viral infections. Such studies have opened up new research avenues exploiting H2 S as a potential therapeutic intervention. © 2018 The Authors IUBMB Life published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, 70(5):393-410, 2018.

Keywords: HIV; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; antioxidant; cytoprotectant; hydrogen sulfide; infection; metabolism.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Infective Agents / pharmacology
  • Biological Assay
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • HIV / drug effects
  • HIV / metabolism
  • HIV / pathogenicity*
  • HIV / physiology
  • HIV Infections / genetics
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / pathology*
  • HIV Infections / virology
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / chemistry
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen Sulfide / pharmacology
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / drug effects
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / metabolism
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / pathogenicity*
  • Mycobacterium tuberculosis / physiology
  • Oxidative Stress
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sulfides / chemistry
  • Sulfides / metabolism
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / genetics
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / immunology
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / pathology*
  • Tuberculosis, Pulmonary / virology


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Sulfides
  • persulfides
  • Hydrogen Sulfide