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Clinical and Translational Allergy

Open Access

Sputum and serum hydrogen sulfide (H2S) as novel biomarker of asthma

  • Junpei Saito1,
  • Pankaj Bhavsar1,
  • Qingling Zhang1,
  • Christopher Hui1,
  • Andrew Menzies-Gow1 and
  • Kian Fan Chung1
Clinical and Translational Allergy20133(Suppl 1):P3

Published: 3 May 2013


AsthmaHealthy SubjectSmooth Muscle CellSalbutamolAsthmatic Patient


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S) is a gas produced by respiratory cells including smooth muscle cells and may play a role as a gasotransmitter. We determined whether H2S levels in serum or sputum supernatants could represent a biomaker of asthma.


We measured H2S in induced sputum and serum samples of patients with severe and non-severe asthma and of healthy subjects. H2S concentrations were measured using a sulfide-sensitive electrode.


H2S levels in induced sputum from severe and non-severe asthmatic patients were significantly higher than those from healthy subjects but there was no difference between the severe and non-severe group. Serum H2S levels were 10 times higher than in sputum and these were also higher in severe and non-severe asthmatic subjects compared to healthy subjects. There was a positive correlation between sputum and blood H2S levels (r=0.42, p<0.05). Sputum H2S levels were negatively correlated with FEV1 %predicted (r=-0.42, p=0.003), and with reversibility to salbutamol (r= -0.54, p<0.01). There was a correlation between sputum H2S and sputum neutrophils and macrophages, and a negative correlation between sputum H2S and FeNO levels.


Endogenous H2S, measured in induced sputum, may be a marker of neutrophilic inflammation and bronchial narrowing.

Authors’ Affiliations

Experimental Studies, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College London & Biomedical Research Unit, Royal Brompton Hospital, London, UK


© Saito et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2013

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.