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Could Hydrogen Sulfide Hold the Key to A Long Life?
Date:12/3/2007

Study finds 'rotten egg' chemical increases life span and heat tolerance in

worms

SEATTLE, Dec. 3 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 to 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 C 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 q
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SOURCE Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
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