Hydrogen Sulfide Metabolism and Signaling in the Tumor Microenvironment

Alessandro Giuffrè, Catarina S. Tomé, Dalila G.F. Fernandes, Karim Zuhra, João B. Vicente

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


Hydrogen sulfide (H2S), while historically perceived merely as a toxicant, has progressively emerged as a key regulator of numerous processes in mammalian physiology, exerting its signaling function essentially through interaction with and/or modification of proteins, targeting mainly cysteine residues and metal centers. As a gaseous signaling molecule that freely diffuses across aqueous and hydrophobic biological milieu, it has been designated the third ‘gasotransmitter’ in mammalian physiology. H2S is synthesized and detoxified by specialized endogenous enzymes that operate under a tight regulation, ensuring homeostatic levels of this otherwise toxic molecule. Indeed, imbalances in H2S levels associated with dysfunctional H2S metabolism have been growingly correlated with various human pathologies, from cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases to cancer. Several cancer cell lines and specimens have been shown to naturally overexpress one or more of the H2S-synthesizing enzymes. The resulting increased H2S levels have been proposed to promote cancer development through the regulation of various cancer-related processes, which led to the interest in pharmacological targeting of H2S metabolism. Herein are summarized some of the key observations that place H2S metabolism and signaling pathways at the forefront of the cellular mechanisms that support the establishment and development of a tumor within its complex and challenging microenvironment. Special emphasis is given to the mechanisms whereby H2S helps shaping cancer cell bioenergetic metabolism and affords resistance and adaptive mechanisms to hypoxia.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameAdvances in Experimental Medicine and Biology
ISSN (Print)0065-2598
ISSN (Electronic)2214-8019


  • 3-mercaptopyruvate sulfurtransferase
  • Cellular bioenergetics
  • Cystathionine β-synthase
  • Cystathionine γ-lyase
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Hypoxia
  • Persulfidation
  • Sulfide oxidizing pathway
  • Tumor microenvironment


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