Hepatic fibrosis is caused by chronic inflammation and characterized as the excessive accumulation of extra cellular matrix (ECM) by activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs). Gasotransmitters like NO and CO are known to modulate inflammation and fibrosis, however, little is known about the role of the gasotransmitter hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in liver fibrogenesis and stellate cell activation. Endogenous H2S is produced by the enzymes cystathionine beta-synthase (CBS), cystathionine gamma-lyase (CTH) and 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfur transferase (MPST) [1]. The aim of this study was to elucidate the role of endogenously produced and/or exogenously administered H2S on rat hepatic stellate cell activation and fibrogenesis. Primary rat HSCs were culture-activated for 7 days and treated with different H2S releasing donors (slow releasing donor GYY4137, fast releasing donor NaHS) or inhibitors of the H2S producing enzymes CTH and CBS (DL-PAG, AOAA). The main message of our study is that mRNA and protein expression level of H2S synthesizing enzymes are low in HSCs compared to hepatocytes and Kupffer cells. However, H2S promotes hepatic stellate cell activation. This conclusion is based on the fact that production of H2S and mRNA and protein expression of its producing enzyme CTH are increased during hepatic stellate cell activation. Furthermore, exogenous H2S increased HSC proliferation while inhibitors of endogenous H2S production reduce proliferation and fibrotic makers of HSCs. The effect of H2S on stellate cell activation correlated with increased cellular bioenergetics. Our results indicate that the H2S generation in hepatic stellate cells is a target for anti-fibrotic intervention and that systemic interventions with H2S should take into account cell-specific effects of H2S.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)26-33
Number of pages8
JournalNitric oxide-Biology and chemistry
Issue number1
Early online date8-Aug-2019
Publication statusPublished - 1-Nov-2019


  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • H2S
  • Cystathionine gamma-lyase
  • CTH
  • CSE
  • Hepatic fibrosis
  • Hepatic stellate cells
  • HSCs
  • RAT

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