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Nitric Oxide. 2014 Sep 15;41:85-96. doi: 10.1016/j.niox.2014.06.003. Epub 2014 Jun 13.

Working with "H2S": facts and apparent artifacts.

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Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.
Medical Clinic 3 - Rheumatology and Immunology, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany.
Department of Chemistry and Pharmacy, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Erlangen, Germany. Electronic address:


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is an important signaling molecule with physiological endpoints similar to those of nitric oxide (NO). Growing interest in its physiological roles and pharmacological potential has led to large sets of contradictory data. The principle cause of these discrepancies can be the common neglect of some of the basic H2S chemistry. This study investigates how the experimental outcome when working with H2S depends on its source and dose and the methodology employed. We show that commercially available NaHS should be avoided and that traces of metal ions should be removed because these can reduce intramolecular disulfides and change protein structure. Furthermore, high H2S concentrations may lead to a complete inhibition of cell respiration, mitochondrial membrane potential depolarization and superoxide generation, which should be considered when discussing the biological effects observed upon treatment with high concentrations of H2S. In addition, we provide chemical evidence that H2S can directly react with superoxide. H2S is also capable of reducing cytochrome c(3+) with the concomitant formation of superoxide. H2S does not directly react with nitrite but with NO electrodes that detect H2S. In addition, H2S interferes with the Griess reaction and should therefore be removed from the solution by Cd(2+) or Zn(2+) precipitation prior to nitrite quantification. 2-Phenyl-4,4,5,5-tetramethylimidazoline-1-oxyl 3-oxide (PTIO) is reduced by H2S, and its use should be avoided in combination with H2S. All these constraints must be taken into account when working with H2S to ensure valid data.


Cytochrome c; Hydrogen sulfide; Nitric oxide; Nitrite; Polysulfides; Superoxide

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