Gut 58:751-761 doi:10.1136/gut.2007.144543
  • Neurogastroenterology

Luminal hydrogen sulfide plays a pronociceptive role in mouse colon

  1. M Matsunami1,
  2. T Tarui1,
  3. K Mitani1,
  4. K Nagasawa1,
  5. O Fukushima1,
  6. K Okubo1,
  7. S Yoshida2,
  8. M Takemura3,
  9. A Kawabata1
  1. 1
    Division of Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, Kinki University School of Pharmacy, Higashi-Osaka, Japan
  2. 2
    Department of Life Science, Kinki University School of Science and Engineering, Higashi-Osaka, Japan
  3. 3
    Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology, Osaka University Graduate School of Dentistry, Suita, Japan
  1. Professor A Kawabata, Division of Pharmacology and Pathophysiology, Kinki University School of Pharmacy, 3-4-1 Kowakae, Higashi-Osaka 577-8502, Japan; kawabata{at}
  • Revised 9 August 2008
  • Accepted 16 September 2008
  • Published Online First 13 October 2008


Objective: Given recent evidence that hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a gasotransmitter, promotes somatic pain through redox modulation of T-type Ca2+ channels, the roles of colonic luminal H2S in visceral nociceptive processing in mice were examined.

Methods: After intracolonic administration of NaHS, an H2S donor, visceral pain-like behaviour and referred abdominal allodynia/hyperalgesia were evaluated. Phosphorylation of extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (ERK) in the spinal dorsal horn was determined immunohistochemically. The whole-cell recording technique was used to evaluate T-type Ca2+ currents (T-currents) in cultured dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons.

Results: Like capsaicin, NaHS, administered intracolonically at 0.5–5 nmol per mouse, triggered visceral nociceptive behaviour accompanied by referred allodynia/hyperalgesia in mice. Phosphorylation of ERK in the spinal dorsal horn was detected following intracolonic NaHS or capsaicin. The behavioural effects of intracolonic NaHS were abolished by a T-type channel blocker or an oxidant, but not inhibitors of L-type Ca2+ channels or ATP-sensitive K+ (KATP) channels. Intraperitoneal NaHS at 60 μmol/kg facilitated intracolonic capsaicin-evoked visceral nociception, an effect abolished by the T-type channel blocker, although it alone produced no behavioural effect. In DRG neurons, T-currents were enhanced by NaHS.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that colonic luminal H2S/NaHS plays pronociceptive roles, and imply that the underlying mechanisms might involve sensitisation/activation of T-type channels probably in the primary afferents, aside from the issue of the selectivity of mibefradil.


  • Competing interests: None.

  • See Commentary, p 744