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This Week in Research: The linkage between the “rotten-egg” gas and appetite revealed

Laurentian University researcher Dr. Jeffrey Gagnon made an interesting discovery on the linkage between the “rotten-egg” gas, H2S, and appetite in experimental mice.  This discovery was just published in the October issue of  Endocrinology 158(10): 3416-3425, 2017. The paper, titled Hydrogen sulfide and sulfate prebiotic stimulates the secretion of GLP-1 and improves glycemia in male mice, comes out of research funded by Dr. Gagnon’s NSERC Discovery Program grant.

Dr. Gagnon’s study examined the impact of the microbial gas, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), on GLP-1 regulation in both cells and animals. GLP-1 is a gastrointestinal derived hormone that suppresses appetite and maintains steady blood glucose levels. Dr. Gagnon’s study showed that H2S donors (sodium hydrosulfide and GYY4137) increased the amount of GLP-1 secretion in vitro in mouse GLP-1 cells. He also determined that this occurs through the P38 MAPK intracellular pathway. This is interesting news, as the mechanisms by which H2S enters and acts on cells are not yet fully understood; more investigation into the interaction between H2S and P38 MAPK could provide vital clues.

The study also examined the link between the levels of H2S produced in the colons of mice, and secretion of GLP-1. Dr. Gagnon’s team found that mice fed a diet supplemented with the prebiotic chondroitin sulfate had elevated levels of bacteria called Desulfovibrio piger—a sulfate-reducing bacterium—in their feces, as well as elevated production of H2S. These mice also produced more GLP-1, which led to a greater insulin response, improved glucose tolerance, and after some time, a reduction in appetite. Future work in his lab will examine whether long term increases in colonic H2S production can reduce body weight and reverse impaired glucose metabolism.

These results open a number of possible directions for further investigation—rather exciting ones, given that therapies based on gastrointestinal hormones like GLP-1 have recently been approved for use treating obesity and type 2 diabetes.

A full copy of Dr. Gagnon’s paper can be found here: https://academic.oup.com/endo/article/doi/10.1210/en.2017-00391/4058080/Hydrogen-sulfide-and-sulfate-prebiotic-stimulates

 

Past editions:

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