The American Heart Association Scientific Sessions conference held in Orlando was the site of a presentation on November 16 of the findings of researchers at Emory University School of Medicine of an ability for diallyl trisulfide, a compound in garlic, to deliver hydrogen sulfide to the heart. Hydrogen sulfide gas protects the heart from damage in low doses, yet has been difficult to use as a treatment due to its unstable and volatile nature.
Emory University School of Medicine Professor David Lefer, along with postdoctoral fellow Benjamin Predmore, simulated heart attacks in mice by blocking their coronary arteries for forty-five minutes. Prior to the restoration of blood flow, the animals received diallyl trisulfide or an inert substance. When the animals' hearts were examined 24 hours later, the proportion of damaged tissue in the area at risk was reduced by 61 percent in mice that received diallyl trisulfide compared to the other mice. The researchers believe that diallyl trisulfide could be useful in situations in which hydrogen sulfide may be beneficial.
"Interruption of oxygen and blood flow damages mitochondria, and loss of mitochondrial integrity can lead to cell death," Dr Predmore explained. "We see that diallyl sulfide can temporarily turn down the function of mitochondria, preserving them and lowering the production of reactive oxygen species."
In other research conducted by team member Kazuhisa Kondo, diallyl sulfide administered twice daily reduced enlargement of the heart in a mouse model of heart failure.
"We are now performing studies with orally active drugs that release hydrogen sulfide," noted Dr Lefer, who also directs the Cardiothoracic Surgery Research Laboratory at Emory University Hospital. "This could avoid the need to inject sulfide-delivery drugs outside of an emergency situation."
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