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Emerging role of hydrogen sulfide in colonic physiology and pathophysiology



Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a toxic gas that is now recognized as an important mediator of many physiological processes. In the colon, H2S is produced both endogenously and by naturally occurring sulfate-reducing bacteria (SRB). The full arrays of its effects in the gastrointestinal tract are still being elucidated, but they range from motility to carcinogenesis. We examined the evidence relating to H2S as a modulator of colonic function and disease. H2S is implicated in modulation of colonic compliance through its action on smooth muscle. There is also evidence linking H2S to colonic nociception, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), and colorectal cancer. The exact mechanisms and pathways by which H2S exerts its multitude of effects are not yet fully understood, but its involvement in physiological and pathophysiological conditions of the colon is becoming evident. Elucidating the intricate effects of H2S in the colon and understanding the exact nature of its interactions with the colon makes pharmacological modulation of H2S production and metabolism potential targets for treatment of a multitude of colonic conditions in the future.(Inflamm Bowel Dis 2010)