Update on Gaseous Signaling Molecules Nitric Oxide and Hydrogen Sulfide: Strategies to Capture their Functional Activity for Human Therapeutics.


Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, Texas (N.S.B.); and Louisiana State University School of Medicine, New Orleans, Louisiana (D.J.L.) [Email]


Discovery of the production of gaseous molecules, such as nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide, within the human body began a new concept in cellular signaling. Over the past 30 years, these molecules have been investigated and found to have extremely important beneficial effects in numerous chronic diseases. Gaseous signaling molecules that diffuse in three dimensions apparently contradict the selectivity and specificity afforded by normal ligand receptor binding and activation. This new concept has also created hurdles in the development of safe and efficacious drug therapy based on these molecules. Mechanisms involving formation of more stable intermediates and second messengers allow for new strategies for safe and effective delivery of these molecules for human disease. The purpose of this review is to highlight the biologic effects of nitric oxide and hydrogen sulfide, their seemingly indistinguishable effects, and how these molecules can be safely harnessed for drug development and precursors or substrates administered for human consumption through applied physiology.