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Logo of jbcThe Journal of Biological Chemistry
J Biol Chem. 2012 February 10; 287(7): 5180.
PMCID: PMC3281611

Elucidating the Role of Hydrogen Sulfide in Kidney Disease♦

Hydrogen Sulfide Inhibits High Glucose-induced Matrix Protein Synthesis by Activating AMP-activated Protein Kinase in Renal Epithelial Cells

♦ See referenced article, J. Biol. Chem. 2012, 287, 4451–4461

In 1996, hydrogen sulfide, best known for its rotten egg smell, was proposed to be a neurotransmitter. The suggestion that hydrogen sulfide had a biological role was controversial until 2008, when researchers showed that deletion of an enzyme that produced hydrogen sulfide in mice caused the animals to develop hypertension. More studies revealed that hydrogen sulfide affected macrophage infiltration, apoptosis, and mitochondrial respiration in the heart. In this Paper of the Week, a team led by Balakuntalam S. Kasinath at the University of Texas Health Science Center and the South Texas Veterans Health Care System delved into how hydrogen sulfide influences renal physiology and disease. They showed that hydrogen sulfide mitigated some of the damage caused by high glucose, which stimulates aberrant matrix protein synthesis in glomerular epithelial cells, by activating AMP kinase. AMP kinase is a sensor of decreased ATP energy in cells and blocks anabolic processes required for matrix protein synthesis. Kasinath's team also demonstrated that diabetic mice suffered from lower expression levels of key enzymes involved in hydrogen sulfide production. The investigators concluded, “Hydrogen sulfide is a newly identified modulator of protein synthesis in the kidney, and reduction in its generation may contribute to kidney injury in diabetes.”

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Immunoperoxidase staining of the kidney showed a reduction in the expression of an enzyme involved in hydrogen sulfide production, cystathionine β-synthase, in type 1 diabetic mice (OVE26) compared with control mice.

Articles from The Journal of Biological Chemistry are provided here courtesy of American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology