• hydrogen sulfide;
  • metabolism;
  • physiological roles;
  • pathological roles;
  • therapeutic use


H2S is a colorless, poisonous, and flammable gas with the characteristic foul odor of rotten eggs. H2S is present in effluent from hydrothermal vents and sulfur springs, which have been proposed to act as “pores” in the Earth surface, providing a source of energy in the form of reducing equivalents and of iron-sulfur centers. Remarkably, H2S-producing machineries or H2S-utilization capacity remain within a great diversity of microorganisms. In particular, two classes of bacteria have been identified, that is, sulfate- and sulfur-reducing and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria, both contributing to the balance of the H2S level. The human body produces H2S and uses it as a signaling molecule in several physiological processes. However, many diseases, including neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases, inflammation, and metabolic disorders, have been linked to abnormal endogenous H2S functions and metabolism. Remarkably, in recent years, the therapeutic administration of H2S(-donors) appears relevant in the treatment of some diseases. Here, H2S metabolism, as well as its physiological and pathological roles in humans is reviewed. Furthermore, the therapeutic use of H2S is discussed. © 2012 BioFactors, 2013