A new research has revealed that hydrogen sulfide, a gas that gives rotten eggs their distinctive odour, can lower heart rate, blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness.
Research at University of Exeter Medical School has indicated that a new compound, called AP39, which generates minute quantities of the gas hydrogen sulfide inside cells, could be beneficial in cases of high blood pressure and diseases of the blood vessels that occur with ageing and diabetes.
The work found that administration of AP39 to animals with high BP significantly lowered heart rate, blood pressure and blood vessel stiffness.
Researcher Matt Whiteman, who led the study, said that this research significantly adds to their growing body of evidence that hydrogen sulfide could hold the key to new and effective therapies in humans.
Whiteman added that they are still at an early stage, but so far the key to success appears to be getting hydrogen sulfide delivered to the right place inside cells and mimicking the way the body naturally produces this gas.
Whiteman continued that the mechanism may be through blocking a calcium channel on the heart that regulates heartbeat, slowing it down. Clinically used drugs which also block this channel have similar effects, but more than 10 fold higher doses are required.
The research team is now investigating the effects of AP39 in other models of heart and blood vessel disease, such as cardiac arrest and heart attacks.
The study is published in the Nitric Oxide Journal.