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

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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.

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Correspondence to Pankaj Bhavsar.

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  • Asthma
  • Healthy Subject
  • Smooth Muscle Cell
  • Salbutamol
  • Asthmatic Patient