Researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio may have discovered an important medical use for hydrogen sulfide, the toxic, colorless gas that smells of rotten eggs. Their experiment focused on kidney cells exposed to high glucose levels. In diabetes patients, prolonged, uncontrolled blood glucose levels can lead to scarring of the kidneys. The UT researchers found that introducing hydrogen sulfide to the kidney cells resulted in decreased production of damaging proteins that cause kidney scarring. Interestingly, the human body produces small amounts of hydrogen sulfide naturally. The researchers reported that mice with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes produce fewer kidney enzymes known to aid in the production of hydrogen sulfide. Future research will be needed to determine whether the gas, which is poisonous in higher concentrations, can be used safely and effectively in animals and humans.
Hydrogen Sulfide Reduces Glucose-Induced Injury in Kidney Cells, Science Daily, January 3, 2012