simple illustration of pink lungs and trachea with SARS-CoV-2 virus overlaid

Promising Study Reveals Hydrogen Sulfide's Potential in Restoring Lung Endothelial Barrier Disruption Associated with SARS-CoV-2

Jun 26, 2023, 11:05 AM by UTMB Surgery

Collaborative UTMB research teams are excited to present their recent publication in Biomedicines, "Hydrogen Sulfide Ameliorates SARS-CoV-2-Associated Lung Endothelial Barrier Disruption." The study, authored by a team of esteemed researchers led by Drs. Olivier Escaffre and Peter Szaniszlo (first authors) and Dr. Katalin Modis (senior author), explores the therapeutic potential of hydrogen sulfide (H2S) in addressing lung endothelial barrier disruption caused by SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. 

The researchers delve into the growing evidence that highlights the critical role of endothelial dysfunction in the pathophysiology of COVID-19. They specifically focus on the damage inflicted on lung microvascular endothelial cells, which can lead to severe respiratory complications and contribute to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) and multiorgan failure. 

Building on previous studies that have demonstrated the positive effects of H2S in various pathological processes, the researchers investigated the impact of a slow-releasing H2S donor called GYY4137 on the barrier function of lung endothelial cells. They conducted in vitro experiments by challenging the cells with plasma samples from COVID-19 patients and inactivated SARS-CoV-2 virus. 

The researchers found that treatment with GYY4137 significantly reduced endothelial barrier permeability after plasma or SARS-CoV-2 virus challenge, effectively mitigating the disruption caused by these challenges. This suggests that H2S-releasing compounds hold immense potential in ameliorating the lung endothelial barrier disruption associated with COVID-19. 

Additionally, the study explored the correlation between disease severity, the cytokine/chemokine profile of patients' plasma, and changes in barrier permeability. The findings indicated that disease severity was associated with the cytokine/chemokine profile of the plasma rather than changes in barrier permeability. These insights contribute to a deeper understanding of the complex mechanisms involved in COVID-19-related endotheliopathy. 

The implications of this study are significant. It not only sheds light on the critical role of endothelial barrier function in COVID-19 but also offers a potential therapeutic avenue for addressing lung endothelial barrier disruption. By harnessing the benefits of H2S-releasing compounds, researchers and medical professionals can potentially develop novel treatment modalities that specifically target and restore the damaged endothelial barriers, improving patient outcomes and reducing the severity of COVID-19 complications. 

This groundbreaking research not only advances our understanding of COVID-19 but also highlights the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in addressing complex challenges. The collaborative efforts of experts from the Department of Surgery, Department of Pathology, Department of Anesthesiology, Department of Internal Medicine, and other institutions have contributed to this significant milestone. 

As we celebrate this remarkable achievement, let us recognize the invaluable contributions made by our university's researchers and reaffirm our commitment to fostering a collaborative and innovative environment. It is through such collaboration that we can continue to make meaningful strides in combating the challenges posed by COVID-19 and other diseases. 

We look forward to further developments in this field and the potential translation of these findings into clinical applications. The university remains dedicated to supporting research endeavors that drive positive change and improve the lives of individuals worldwide.