Washington, Nov 12 : A new study on mice, by scientists at Emory University School of Medicine, has suggested that hydrogen sulphide may help treat humans with heart failure.
In the study, the researchers found that at low concentrations, the toxic gas hydrogen sulphide protects the hearts of mice from heart failure.
Best known for its rotten-egg smell, hydrogen sulphide can pose a deadly threat to miners or sewer workers.
However, scientists have recently found that enzymes within the body produce the gas in small, physiological amounts, with multiple beneficial effects such as regulating blood pressure and attenuating inflammation.
David Lefer, PhD, professor of surgery at Emory University School of Medicine, and his team created a model of heart failure in mice by blocking their left coronary arteries either temporarily for an hour or permanently, causing part of their heart muscles to die.
Hydrogen sulphide was administered intravenously once a day for a week.
"Our results show that hydrogen sulphide can blunt the impact of heart failure on heart function and mortality in a mouse model of heart failure," said John Calvert, PhD, assistant professor of surgery working with Lefer.
Four weeks after artery blockage, mice treated with hydrogen sulphide had an ejection fraction, a measure of heart function, about a third larger than controls (36 compared to 27 percent).
He and his colleagues also found similar effects in mice engineered to make more of an enzyme that generates hydrogen sulphide.
The study has been presented on Nov. 11 at the American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions conference in New Orleans.