Hydrogen sulfide, known for its rotten egg smell, may unexpectedly help fight Alzheimer’s disease, Johns Hopkins University researchers discovered.
The human body naturally creates small amounts of hydrogen sulfide to help regulate the functions of the entire body: from cellular metabolism to the dilation of blood vessels.
Scientists note that sulfhydration levels in the brain decrease with age, a trend that is amplified in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.
Meanwhile, experiments conducted on mice allowed to show that hydrogen sulfide can help protect brain cells against aging and Alzheimer’s disease, says the statement of Johns Hopkins Medicine.
New research, published in the Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, studied mice, genetically modified to mimic human Alzheimer’s disease.
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The researchers injected mice with a hydrogen sulfide carrier compound called NaGYY – developed by their collaborators at the University of Exeter in the UK – that slowly releases hydrogen sulfide molecules as it travels through the body.
Behavioral tests in the mice showed that hydrogen sulfide improved cognitive and motor function by 50% compared to mice that did not receive the NaGYY injections. The treated mice were able to better remember the location of the platform exits and appeared more physically active.
“By correcting the levels of hydrogen sulfide in the brain, we could successfully reverse some aspects of Alzheimer’s disease,” said Matt Whiteman, professor of experimental therapeutics at the University of Exeter School of Medicine.
The discovery, according to scientists, opens the door to the development of new drugs to combat neurodegenerative diseases.