Researchers led by Songtao Shi at the University of Pennsylvania have found out that the Hydrogen Sulfide gas plays a key role in the regulation of Autoimmune diseases.
Our body’s immunity is controlled by White Blood Cells(WBCs). They handle almost all aspects of our body’s defence structure. From fighting the disease-causing microbes to secreting anti allergic chemicals, WBCs control it all. Lymphocytes are the main cells controlling cell mediated immunity.
There exists a particular kind of Lymphocyte called the T-helper cells which make sure that the immune responses don’t go out of hand. Think of them as the regulators of immunity i.e they protect the body from damaging itself. There arises a case, when sometimes, these cells are not synthesized in the requisite amount in our body which in turn delays the regulation immune responses and the body starts harming itself by releasing antibodies against itself.
In an amazing breakthrough, it has been found that the main reason for this is the low concentration of Hydrogen Sulfide in our bodies. Though it is toxic for us in high amounts, our body does maintain a certain level of the gas produced by the mesenchymal stem cells.
Hydrogen sulfide is a colorless, flammable, extremely hazardous gas with a “
An experiment was conducted on genetically engineered mice with reduced levels of H2S.. This led to the development of autoimmune diseases due to lower number of T-Helper cells and when these mice were given H2S producing compounds, their life expectancy increased considerably.
Scientists observed that H2S deficient T-cells had lower levels of a marker(read gene) called foxp3. The mice with reduced H2S production had a large number of methyl groups attached to foxp3. So, demethylation was needed which requires 2 enzymes tet1 and tet 2. These enzymes are in turn regulated by H2S by a process called sulfhydration (adding a sulphur atom to it).
This is the first time anyone has connected sulfhydration with Tet and Tet with Foxp3. It is becoming clear that H2S has a very important role to play in immune system.
The research is still nascent and the researchers are trying to identify new ways to check fall in H2S levels in order to prevent autoimmune diseases!
Did you like / hate our CryResearch section? Let us know in the comments below!