Stinky Farts May Help Regulate Blood Pressure

Anyone with a functioning nose knows well how terribly annoying it is to smell the rotten-egg aroma of farts. Now researchers have discovered that this smelly gas regulates blood pressure in mice, and possibly humans, too.

The role of hydrogen sulfide

The new research revealed that cells lining blood vessels of mice naturally produce hydrogen sulfide (H2S) and found that it relaxes the blood vessels.

This in turn controls the rodents’ blood pressure. The researchers said that this gas is also produced in cells that line the human blood vessels, and can prevent high blood pressure (hypertension) in humans, too.

According to Solomon H. Snyder, neuroscientist at Johns Hopkins and co-author of the study published in the October 24th issue of the Science journal, "Now that we know hydrogen sulfide’s role in regulating blood pressure, it may be possible to design drug therapies that enhance its formation as an alternative to the current methods of treatment for hypertension."

The groundbreaking study

Snyder and the other researchers in the study compared normal mice to CSE-deficient mice; this gene for an enzyme has long been suspected as the one responsible for the production of H2S.

After measuring H2S levels from tissues of CSE-lacking mice, the researchers were surprised that there was gas depletion in the altered mice’s cardiovascular systems.

On the other hand, normal mice exhibited higher levels of H2S. This shows that the gas is naturally produced by mammalian tissues that use CSE.

Next, the scientists subjected the mice to higher blood pressures that were comparable to serious high blood pressure in humans.

The mice responded to methacholine, a chemical that relaxes blood vessels. The results showed that the blood vessels of the CSE-deficient mice barely relaxed. This indicates that H2S is a strong candidate for controlling blood pressure.

Significance of the study

Snyder and colleague’s study is considered as the first one to show that the CSE enzyme that bring about H2S activates itself. According to Snyder, this activation is similar to those of other enzymes when they set off their respective gasotransmitter, like an enzyme that form nitric oxide that also controls blood pressure.

Since gasotransmitters are common in all mammals, the findings on the significance of H2S are believed to have huge applications to such human diseases as neurodegenerative diseases and diabetes.

The researchers call for further studies According to Rui Wang of Lakehead University in Ontario and one of the authors of the study, "It’s difficult to overestimate the biological importance of hydrogen sulfide or its implications in hypertension as well as diabetes and neurodegenerative diseases. In fact, most human diseases probably have something to do with gasotransmitters."