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Vascular synthesis of the novel endogenous vasodilatory and redox active gas hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is perturbed in animal models of hypertension and diabetes.1 However, the role of H2S in the human vasculature in health or disease is unknown. We have investigated whether plasma H2S levels correlated to physical, clinical and biochemical indices of obesity and diabetes in men.
Plasma was obtained from male patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM; n=11), overweight (OW; n=16) and lean (n=11) healthy male volunteers, and H2S levels were determined by zinc-trap spectrophotometry. Anthropometric measurements (body mass index, waist–hip ratio), lipid profile, systemic blood pressure and indices of diabetes (fasting glucose, insulin sensitivity, glycated haemoglobin) were determined.
Mean plasma H2S levels were significantly lower in T2DM patients (mean±SD 12.73±8.67 μM) compared with lean (41.1±17.9 μM, p=0.001 Mann–Whitney U test) and OW (OW 22.93±7.96 μM, p=0.008) volunteers. Mean plasma H2S levels in OW volunteers were significantly lower than in lean controls (p=0.003). Waist–hip ratio was a significant independent predictor of plasma H2S (R2=0.431, p<0.001; standardised β −0.657, p<0.001 linear regression) in the whole group. This relationship was independent of diabetes status, which contributed 4% to the model (R2=0.472). Waist–hip ratio remained an independent predictor of plasma H2S when adjusted for systolic blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, glycaemic control and lipid profile. These findings were reflected with both body mass index and waist circumference.
The reduction in plasma H2S in both OW and T2DM male individuals is primarily driven by adiposity.