Vascular biology of hydrogen sulfide

Nancy L. Kanagy, Csaba Szabo, Andreas Papapetropoulos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

151 Scopus citations


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a ubiquitous signaling molecule with important functions in many mammalian organs and systems. Observations in the 1990s ascribed physiological actions to H2Sinthe nervous system, proposing that this gasotransmitter acts as a neuromodulator. Soon after that, the vasodilating properties of H2S were demonstrated. In the past decade, H2S was shown to exert a multitude of physiological effects in the vessel wall. H2S is produced by vascular cells and exhibits antioxidant, antiapoptotic, anti-inflammatory, and vasoactive properties. In this concise review, we have focused on the impact of H2S on vascular structure and function with an emphasis on angiogenesis, vascular tone, vascular permeability and atherosclerosis. H2S reduces arterial blood pressure, limits atheromatous plaque formation, and promotes vascularization of ischemic tissues. Although the beneficial properties of H2S are well established, mechanistic insights into the molecular pathways implicated in disease prevention and treatment remain largely unexplored. Unraveling the targets and downstream effectors of H2S in the vessel wall in the context of disease will aid in translation of preclinical observations. In addition, acute regulation of H2S production is still poorly understood and additional work delineating the pathways regulating the enzymes that produce H2S will allow pharmacological manipulation of this pathway. As the field continues to grow, we expect that H2 S-related compounds will find their way into clinical trials for diseases affecting the blood vessels.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)C537-C549
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Cell Physiology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2017


  • Blood vessels
  • Endothelium
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Signaling
  • Vascular smooth muscle

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Cell Biology


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