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It has been seen to be an important mediator of gastrointestinal (GI) mucosal defence and contributes significantly to repair of damage and resolution of inflammation. Synthesis of H2S increases markedly after mucosal injury, and inhibition of H2S in such circumstances leads to delayed healing and exacerbated inflammation.
The beneficial effects of H2S may be attributable to its ability to elevate mucosal blood flow, prevent leukocyte-endothelial adhesion, reduce oxidative stress, and stimulate angiogenesis.
Experiments with mice have shown that H2S can reduce their ability to metabolize oxygen, reducing their heart rate and breathing rate, lowering their body temperature, and creating a state of deep hibernation. By flushing with air, the mice can be restored to normal without apparent behavioural effects.
The possibility of using H2S in heart surgery or treating badly injured soldiers is being studied. By studying roundworms (C. elegans) it has been shown that 50 parts per million of H2S can extend their lives by 70 percent. This "fountain of youth" phenomenon seems to be connected to the gene SIR-2, which had previously been related to life span regulation.
These preliminary findings are very exciting and may lead to medical advances. H2S appears to be another example of a "gasotransmitter" such as the hormone NO. Researchers speculates that H2S may be involved in the hibernation of certain animals.