Hydrogen sulfide, or H2S, the chemical that gives rotten eggs their sulfurous stench – and the same compound that researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center successfully have used to put mice into a state of reversible metabolic hibernation – has now been shown to significantly increase life span and heat tolerance in the nematode worm, or C. elegans.
These findings by Mark Roth, Ph.D., a member of the Center’s Basic Sciences Division, and Dana Miller, Ph.D., a postdoctoral research fellow in Roth’s lab, appear in the PNAS Online Early Edition, a publication of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
In an effort to understand the mechanisms by which hydrogen sulfide induces hibernation in mice, the researchers turned to the tiny nematode, a workhorse of laboratory science because its biology is similar in many respects that of humans. For example, like humans, nematodes have a central nervous system and the ability to reproduce. The worms also are ideally suited for studying life span, because they normally live for only two to three weeks.
The researchers found, to their surprise, that nematodes that were raised in a carefully controlled atmosphere with low concentrations of H2S (50 parts per million in room air) did not hibernate. Instead, their metabolism and reproductive activity remained normal, their life span increased and they became more tolerant to heat than untreated worms.
The H2S-exposed worms lived eight times longer than untreated worms when moved from normal room air (22 C or 70 F) to a high-temperature environment (35 degrees Celsius, or 95 F). Roth and colleagues replicated these results in 15 independent experiments.
“Although the maximum extension of survival time varied between experiments, the effect was quite robust. On average, 77 percent of the worms exposed to H2S outlived the untreated worms,” Roth said. The mean life span of worms grown in an atmosphere laced with hydrogen sulfide was 9.6 days greater than that of the untreated population, a longevity increase of 70 percent.
Most genes that influence life span in C. elegans act on one of three genetic pathways: those that control insulin/IGF (insulin growth factor) signaling, those that control mitochondrial function and those that modulate the effects of dietary restriction.
Roth and colleagues ruled out hydrogen sulfide’s influence on each of these pathways. Instead, they suspect it acts through a different mechanism. One theory is that exposure to H2S naturally regulates the activity of a gene called SIR-2.1, which has been shown to influence life span in many organisms, including the nematode. Previous studies have found that over-expression of this gene increases the longevity of C. elegans by 18 percent to 20 percent.
“Further research into the genetic mechanisms that influence H2S-induced changes in nematodes may reveal similar mechanisms in higher organisms, including humans, with potentially wide-ranging implications in both basic research and clinical practice,” Roth said. For example, understanding how H2S affects physiology in animals may lead to the development of drugs that could delay the onset of age-related diseases in humans such as cancer, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.
Roth’s hibernation research made headlines worldwide in April 2005 when he was the first to show that exposing mice to minute amounts of hydrogen sulfide could induce a state of reversible “hibernation on demand,” dramatically reducing their core body temperature, respiration and need for oxygen. Roth envisions a future in which similar techniques could be used to “buy time” for critically ill patients who otherwise would face injury and death from insufficient blood and oxygen supply to organs and tissues.
Roth hypothesizes that H2S, a chemical normally produced in humans and animals, may help regulate body temperature and metabolic activity. Hydrogen sulfide is similar to oxygen at the molecular level because it binds at many of the same proteins. As a result, H2S competes for and interferes with the body’s ability to use oxygen for energy production – a process within the cell’s power-generating machinery called oxidative phosphorylation.
The inhibition of this function, in turn, is what Roth and colleagues believe causes organisms such as mice to shut down metabolically and enter a hibernation-like state pending re-exposure to normal room air, after which they quickly regain normal function and metabolic activity with no long-term negative effects.
Kristen Lidke Woodward | EurekAlert!
Flow of cerebrospinal fluid regulates neural stem cell division
22.05.2018 | Helmholtz Zentrum München - Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt
Chemists at FAU successfully demonstrate imine hydrogenation with inexpensive main group metal
22.05.2018 | Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg
So-called quantum many-body scars allow quantum systems to stay out of equilibrium much longer, explaining experiment | Study published in Nature Physics
Recently, researchers from Harvard and MIT succeeded in trapping a record 53 atoms and individually controlling their quantum state, realizing what is called a...
The historic first detection of gravitational waves from colliding black holes far outside our galaxy opened a new window to understanding the universe. A...
A team led by Austrian experimental physicist Rainer Blatt has succeeded in characterizing the quantum entanglement of two spatially separated atoms by observing their light emission. This fundamental demonstration could lead to the development of highly sensitive optical gradiometers for the precise measurement of the gravitational field or the earth's magnetic field.
The age of quantum technology has long been heralded. Decades of research into the quantum world have led to the development of methods that make it possible...
Cardiovascular tissue engineering aims to treat heart disease with prostheses that grow and regenerate. Now, researchers from the University of Zurich, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Charité Berlin have successfully implanted regenerative heart valves, designed with the aid of computer simulations, into sheep for the first time.
Producing living tissue or organs based on human cells is one of the main research fields in regenerative medicine. Tissue engineering, which involves growing...
A team of scientists of the Max Planck Institute for the Structure and Dynamics of Matter (MPSD) at the Center for Free-Electron Laser Science in Hamburg investigated optically-induced superconductivity in the alkali-doped fulleride K3C60under high external pressures. This study allowed, on one hand, to uniquely assess the nature of the transient state as a superconducting phase. In addition, it unveiled the possibility to induce superconductivity in K3C60 at temperatures far above the -170 degrees Celsius hypothesized previously, and rather all the way to room temperature. The paper by Cantaluppi et al has been published in Nature Physics.
Unlike ordinary metals, superconductors have the unique capability of transporting electrical currents without any loss. Nowadays, their technological...
02.05.2018 | Event News
13.04.2018 | Event News
12.04.2018 | Event News
18.05.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering
18.05.2018 | Information Technology
18.05.2018 | Information Technology