Digestive Diseases and Sciences

, Volume 52, Issue 2, pp 373–378 | Cite as

Impaired Detoxication of Hydrogen Sulfide in Ulcerative Colitis?

  • R. Picton
  • M. C. Eggo
  • M. J. S. Langman
  • S. SinghEmail author
Original Paper


Impaired butyrate oxidation and raised counts of sulfate-reducing bacteria in the colon of patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) indicate that the disease may be induced or aggravated by hydrogen sulfide toxicity. We aimed to examine enzymatic removal of H2S in erythrocytes and colonic mucosa from controls and patients with UC and Crohn's disease (CD). Rhodanese (RHOD) and thiol methyltransferase (TMT) activities were measured in rectal mucosa and erythrocytes, and plasma thiocyanate was determined. Four groups were analyzed: patients with UC, patients with CD, hospital controls (patients with dyspepsia or IBS), and a group of healthy volunteers. RHOD and TMT activity in rectal biopsies did not differ significantly between controls and patients with UC or CD (n=56). Control levels of RHOD were significantly higher in men than in women (212±25 and 132±14 nmol/mg/min, respectively; P<0.01). In erythrocytes (n=128) RHOD activity was significantly higher in UC patients than in hospital or volunteer controls (1.15±0.12 compared with 0.88±0.12 and 0.66±0.02 nmol/mg/min; P<0.05 and P<0.02, respectively). TMT activity was also significantly higher in erythrocytes from UC patients and hospital controls than volunteer controls (2.02±0.13 pmol/mg/min [P<0.001], 1.51±0.21 pmol/mg/min [P<0.05], and 1.17±0.18 pmol/mg/min, respectively). We found no evidence of defective enzymic detoxication of sulfide by RHOD or TMT in patients with UC or CD.


Rhodanese Thiol methyltransferase Sulfate-reducing bacteria 



This work was funded by The Wellcome Trust.


  1. 1.
    Pitcher MC, Cummings JH (1996) Hydrogen sulphide: A bacterial toxin in ulcerative colitis? Gut 39:1–4PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Elson CO, Sartor RB, Tennyson GS, Riddell RH (1995) Experimental models of inflammatory bowel disease. Gastroenterology 109:1344–1367PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Tragnone A, Valpiani D, Miglio F, Elmi G, Bazzocchi G, Pipitone E, Lanfranchi GA (1995) Dietary habits as risk factors for inflammatory bowel disease. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 7:47–51PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Reif S, Klein I, Lubin F, Farbstein M, Hallak A, Gilat T (1997) Pre-illness dietary factors in inflammatory bowel disease. Gut 40:754–760PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Jowett SL, Seal CJ, Pearce MS, Phillips E, Gregory W, Barton JR, Welfare MR (2004) Influence of dietary factors on the clinical course of ulcerative colitis: a prospective cohort study. Gut 53:1479–1484PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Roediger WE (1998) Decreased sulphur amino acid intake in ulcerative colitis. Lancet 351:1555PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Khan AA, Schuler MM, Prior MG, Yong S, Coppock RW, Florence LZ, Lillie LE (1990) Effects of hydrogen sulfide exposure on lung mitochondrial respiratory chain enzymes in rats. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol 103:482–490PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Roediger WE, Duncan A, Kapaniris O, Millard S (1993) Reducing sulfur compounds of the colon impair colonocyte nutrition: implications for ulcerative colitis. Gastroenterology 104:802–809PubMedGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Roediger WE (1980) The colonic epithelium in ulcerative colitis: An energy-deficiency disease? Lancet 2:712–715PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gibson GR, Cummings JH, Macfarlane GT (1991) Growth and activities of sulphate-reducing bacteria in gut contents of healthy subjects and patients with ulcerative colitis. FEMS Microbiol Lett 86:103111CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Pitcher MCL, Beatty ER, Cummings JH (2000) The contribution of sulphate reducing bacteria and 5-aminosalicylic acid to faecal sulphide in patients with ulcerative colitis. Gut 46:64–72PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Picton R, Eggo MC, Merrill GA, Langman MJ, Singh S (2002) Mucosal protection against sulphide: importance of the enzyme rhodanese. Gut 50:201–205PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Aminlari M, Gilanpour H (1991) Comparative studies on the distribution of rhodanese in different tissues of domestic animals. Comp Biochem Physiol B 99:673–677PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Sorbo BH (1955) Rhodanese. In: Methods in enzymology, Vol 2. Academic Press, New York, pp 334–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Pacifici GM, Romiti P, Santerini S, Giuliani L (1993) S-Methyltransferases in human intestine: differential distribution of the microsomal thiol methyltransferase and cytosolic thiopurine methyltransferase along the human bowel. Xenobiotica 23:671–679PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Weinshilboum RM, Sladek S, Klumpp S (1979) Human erythrocyte thiol methyltransferase: radiochemical microassay and biochemical properties. Clin Chim Acta 97:59–71PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sorbo B (1957) A colorimetric method for the determination of thiosulfate. Biochim Biophys Acta 23:412–416PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Bradford MM (1976) A rapid and sensitive method for the quantitation of microgram quantities of protein utilizing the principle of protein-dye binding. Anal Biochem 72:248–254PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Whitaker JR, Granum PE (1980) An absolute method for protein determination based on difference in absorbance at 235 and 280 nm. Anal Biochem 109:156–159PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Lampe JW, Fredstrom SB, Slavin JL, Potter JD (1993) Sex differences in colonic function: a randomised trial. Gut 34:531–536PubMedGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Weisiger RA, Pinkus LM, Jakoby WB (1980) Thiol S-methyltransferase: suggested role in detoxication of intestinal hydrogen sulfide. Biochem Pharmacol 29:2885–2887PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Roediger WE, Babidge WJ (2000) Thiol methyltransferase activity in inflammatory bowel disease. Gut 47:206–210PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Pitcher MC, Beatty ER, Harris RM, Waring RH, Cummings JH (1998) Sulfur metabolism in ulcerative colitis: investigation of detoxification enzymes in peripheral blood. Dig Dis Sci 43:2080–2085PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Nagahara N, Okazaki T, Nishino T (1995) Cytosolic mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase is evolutionarily related to mitochondrial rhodanese. J Biol Chem 270:16230–16235PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. Picton
    • 1
  • M. C. Eggo
    • 1
  • M. J. S. Langman
    • 1
  • S. Singh
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of MedicineUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Good Hope HospitalSutton ColdfieldUK
  3. 3.Department of MedicineUniversity of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations