Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Foul-smelling gas shows health benefits in reducing joint swelling

Date:
April 29, 2013
Source:
University of Exeter
Summary:
Scientists have discovered that a novel drug molecule, which slowly generates the gas hydrogen sulfide, effectively reduces swelling and inflammation in arthritic joints.

The chemical structure of a Hydrogen Sulfide molecule.
Credit: Image courtesy of University of Exeter

A gas associated with the smell of rotten eggs has proven to effectively reduce joint swelling, in research which could lead to advances in the treatment of arthritis.

Scientists at the University of Exeter Medical School have discovered that a novel drug molecule, which slowly generates the gas hydrogen sulfide (H2S), effectively reduces swelling and inflammation in arthritic joints.

For years, H2S has been regarded as a highly poisonous by-product which is corrosive, flammable and explosive. But research is now showing an altogether more benign side to the substance.

Professor Matt Whiteman, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said the research, which is published online in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, could pave the way for more effective treatments of arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. Prof Whiteman said: "H2S is widely dismissed as a toxic and foul-smelling environmental pollutant, but it has recently been shown to be created in humans and animals by a specific set of enzymes. Why would the body do this if it had no benefit? Our research has shown that the key to unlocking the therapeutic qualities of H2S is through slow release, mimicking the body's own production."

The team has previously shown that H2S levels were increased by up to four times in the knee joints of patients with joint diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, but intriguingly the higher H2S levels strongly correlated with a lower number of inflammatory cells in the joint. The latest study provides further evidence that the real role for H2S may be to combat inflammation, swelling and joint destruction.

Prof Whiteman added: "A patient will usually visit their doctor with a joint already inflamed, swollen and painful. Since the compound worked after arthritis was established, it may be useful in treating arthritis in the future. Many compounds can prevent arthritis in the laboratory, but of course nobody knows when they will get arthritis. Having a class of compounds which reduce inflammation and swelling when arthritis is already active is extremely exciting. These molecules may also be useful in other inflammatory conditions, and even in the inflammatory aspects of diabetes and obesity."

The study was part of a large collaboration funded by the Wellcome Trust and Arthritis Research UK, involving Professor Philip K Moore and Dr Julie Keeble from King's College London, as well as researchers at the National University of Singapore and Queen's University Belfast. The team used primary human cells as well as a model of arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis causes some cells to proliferate too quickly in the joint and secrete substances which promote tissue inflammation, swelling and eventually joint destruction. However, the H2S donor molecule prevented this secretion, and inhibited the activity of several enzymes which cause inflation. In the arthritis model, the compound did not prevent arthritis, but was highly effective at reducing joint inflammation and swelling once arthritis was established, suggesting H2S-based compounds may one day be useful in clinic.

The same team has previously found that people who are overweight or have diabetes have lower levels of H2S in their bodies than healthy adults resulting in higher blood pressure, poorer insulin sensitivity and higher levels of sugar in their blood. It has also been reported to promote ulcer healing and reduce lung injury in smokers.

Co-author Dr Mark E Wood, at the University of Exeter, added: "Despite its reputation for being hazardous, H2S could in fact hold the key to solving some of the widespread health problems affecting the country. Our work is a major step in proving that it can be more hero than villain to the human body, providing it is administered in the right way, at the right time. We currently have several more efficient H2S donor molecules being evaluated with collaborators and this is a very exciting time for us."

Dr Julie Keeble, co-author from King's College London, commented: "The finding that H2S is able to reduce joint inflammation in experimental models makes it a very exciting prospect for treating arthritis. Many patients with arthritis do not respond effectively to current treatments or suffer side-effects from their medication. We hope that H2S-releasing drugs like the one tested in this study will be effective in treating arthritis without uncomfortable side effects."

Prof Whiteman is organising the Second European Conference on the Biology of Hydrogen Sulfide at the University of Exeter between September 8 and 11. It will bring together European scientists and participants from across the world to focus on the rapidly expanding and exciting field of H2S biology and medicine.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Exeter. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Ling Li, Bridget Fox, Julie Keeble, Manuel Salto-Tellez, Paul G. Winyard, Mark E. Wood, Philip K. Moore, Matthew Whiteman. The complex effects of the slow-releasing hydrogen sulfide donor GYY4137 in a model of acute joint inflammation and in human cartilage cells. Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, 2013; 17 (3): 365 DOI: 10.1111/jcmm.12016

Cite This Page:

University of Exeter. "Foul-smelling gas shows health benefits in reducing joint swelling." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 29 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429130516.htm>.
University of Exeter. (2013, April 29). Foul-smelling gas shows health benefits in reducing joint swelling. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429130516.htm
University of Exeter. "Foul-smelling gas shows health benefits in reducing joint swelling." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130429130516.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Idaho Boy Helps Brother With Disabilities Complete Triathlon

Newsy (July 23, 2014) An 8-year-old boy helped his younger brother, who has a rare genetic condition that's confined him to a wheelchair, finish a triathlon. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

Thousands Who Can't Afford Medical Care Flock to Free US Clinic

AFP (July 23, 2014) America may be the world’s richest country, but in terms of healthcare, the World Health Organisation ranks it 37th. Thousands turned out for a free clinic run by "Remote Area Medical" with a visit from the Governor of Virginia. Duration: 2:40 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Stone Fruit Listeria Scare Causes Sweeping Recall

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The Wawona Packing Company has issued a voluntary recall on the stone fruit it distributes due to a possible Listeria outbreak. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Huge Schizophrenia Study Finds Dozens Of New Genetic Causes

Newsy (July 22, 2014) The 83 new genetic markers could open dozens of new avenues for schizophrenia treatment research. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins