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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2014 Mar 28;446(1):393-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.02.129. Epub 2014 Mar 12.

H2S relaxes isolated human airway smooth muscle cells via the sarcolemmal K(ATP) channel.

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Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Cardiovascular and Metabolic Research Unit, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada.
Division of Cardiology, Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, USA.
Division of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care, Airways Biology Initiative, University of Pennsylvania Medical Center, Philadelphia, PA, USA.
Department of Biology, Lakehead University, Thunder Bay, ON, Canada.
Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA. Electronic address:


Here we explored the impact of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) on biophysical properties of the primary human airway smooth muscle (ASM)-the end effector of acute airway narrowing in asthma. Using magnetic twisting cytometry (MTC), we measured dynamic changes in the stiffness of isolated ASM, at the single-cell level, in response to varying doses of GYY4137 (1-10mM). GYY4137 slowly released appreciable levels of H2S in the range of 10-275 μM, and H2S released was long lived. In isolated human ASM cells, GYY4137 acutely decreased stiffness (i.e. an indicator of the single-cell relaxation) in a dose-dependent fashion, and stiffness decreases were sustained in culture for 24h. Human ASM cells showed protein expressions of cystathionine-γ-lyase (CSE; a H2S synthesizing enzyme) and ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channels. The KATP channel opener pinacidil effectively relaxed isolated ASM cells. In addition, pinacidil-induced ASM relaxation was completely inhibited by the treatment of cells with the KATP channel blocker glibenclamide. Glibenclamide also markedly attenuated GYY4137-mediated relaxation of isolated human ASM cells. Taken together, our findings demonstrate that H2S causes the relaxation of human ASM and implicate as well the role for sarcolemmal KATP channels. Finally, given that ASM cells express intrinsic enzymatic machinery of generating H2S, we suggest thereby this class of gasotransmitter can be further exploited for potential therapy against obstructive lung disease.


ATP-sensitive potassium channels; Airway smooth muscle; Asthma; H(2)S; Single cell contraction

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