An article published online on January 7, 2013 in the journal Molecular and Cellular Biology summarizes the increasing evidence for hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a gas produced in the body that declines with aging, in the promotion of longevity.
Zhi-Sheng Jiang and colleagues at the University of South China in Hunan reviewed the cardiovascular, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits of hydrogen sulfide as well as its effect on the gene klotho, which is involved in lifespan extension. "Data available so far strongly suggest that H2S may become the next potent agent for preventing and ameliorating the symptoms of aging and age-associated diseases," Dr Jiang stated.
In the cardiovascular system, hydrogen sulfide promotes relaxation of the vascular endothelium and smooth muscle cells, and suppresses the formation of macrophage-derived foam cells that occurs during the development of atherosclerosis. Increased hydrogen sulfide levels have been correlated with reduced coronary heart disease severity.
The antioxidant effect of hydrogen sulfide prevents oxidative damage that has long been associated with age-related conditions. It also inhibits pro-inflammatory factors that further contribute to age-related disease. In addition, H2S upregulates the gene klotho, which extends lifespan through several pathways. Other potential areas of benefit for hydrogen sulfide include central nervous system disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases, diabetes and cancer. (The anticancer compound sulforaphane releases relatively large amounts of hydrogen sulfide.)
"A better understanding of the roles of H2S in aging can provide insights into potential therapeutic interventions against aging and reduce age-associated diseases," the authors write. "More specifically, data available so far strongly suggest that H2S may become the next potent preventive and therapeutic agent for preventing and ameliorating the symptoms of aging and age-associated diseases, and this should be addressed in future studies."
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