Hydrogen sulfide contributes to hypoxic inhibition of airway transepithelial sodium absorption

Nicole C. Krause, Hanna S. Kutsche, Fabrizio Santangelo, Eric R. DeLeon, Nikolaus P. Dittrich, Kenneth Olson, Mike Althaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations


In lung epithelial cells, hypoxia decreases the expression and activity of sodium-transporting molecules, thereby reducing the rate of transepithelial sodium absorption. The mechanisms underlying the sensing of hypoxia and subsequent coupling to sodium-transporting molecules remain unclear. Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) has recently been recognized as a cellular signaling molecule whose intracellular concentrations critically depend on oxygen levels. Therefore, it was questioned whether endogenously produced H2S contributes to hypoxic inhibition of sodium transport. In electrophysiological Ussing chamber experiments, hypoxia was established by decreasing oxygen concentrations in the chambers. Hypoxia concentration dependently and reversibly decreased amiloride-sensitive sodium absorption by cultured H441 monolayers and freshly dissected porcine tracheal epithelia due to inhibition of basolateral Na+/K+-ATPase. Exogenous application of H2S by the sulfur salt Na2S mimicked the effect of hypoxia and inhibited amiloride-sensitive sodium absorption by both tissues in an oxygen-dependent manner. Hypoxia increased intracellular concentrations of H2S and decreased the concentration of polysulfides. Pretreatment with the cystathionine-γ-lyase inhibitor D/L-propargylglycine (PAG) decreased hypoxic inhibition of sodium transport by H441 monolayers, whereas inhibition of cystathionine-β-synthase (with aminooxy-acetic acid; AOAA) or 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase (with aspartate) had no effect. Inhibition of all of these H2S-generating enzymes with a combination of AOAA, PAG, and aspartate decreased the hypoxic inhibition of sodium transport by H441 cells and pig tracheae and decreased H2S production by tracheae. These data suggest that airway epithelial cells endogenously produce H2S during hypoxia, and this contributes to hypoxic inhibition of transepithelial sodium absorption.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R607-R617
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2016


  • Airway
  • Epithelial sodium channels
  • Gasotransmitter
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Hypoxia
  • Na/K-ATPase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Medicine(all)
  • Physiology (medical)

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