Hydrogen sulfide against HIV | Science and life


The immunodeficiency virus is restrained by antiretroviral therapy: a person with HIV is given several drugs at once that suppress various viral proteins, preventing HIV from multiplying, forming viral particles, interacting with cellular receptors, etc. HIV belongs to retroviruses – this group of viruses can integrate into the cellular genome; and if the circumstances are unfavorable (for example, due to the same therapy), HIV falls asleep for a long time – it sits in the genome, but its genes are inactive, new viral proteins and viral particles do not appear in the cell.

However, there are times when the virus suddenly leaves therapy. In addition, there are side effects from her drugs – toxic molecules accumulate in the cell, oxidative stress increases, etc. As a result, everything turns into extensive inflammation and damage to internal organs. That is, on the one hand, the task is to make antiretroviral therapy more effective and safe, on the other, to find a remedy that would allow you to take a break from it for a while, without fear that the virus will wake up and start working in full force.

Employees Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore they offer hydrogen sulfide – H2S. We know it as a poisonous gas with the smell of rotten eggs, which is formed when organic matter decays. But in small quantities, it is present in many of our cells and tissues, participating in various biochemical and physiological processes. For example, hydrogen sulfide mitigates oxidative stress by reducing the amount of aggressive oxidants in cells – reactive oxygen species.

In an article in eLife the researchers write that when HIV wakes up, at the same time the activity of the enzyme, on which the level of intracellular hydrogen sulfide depends, decreases. If the activity of this enzyme is artificially suppressed, the redox balance in the cell will be disturbed, as a result, the work of the mitochondria, the energy stations of the cell, will be disrupted, then the activity of some genes will change, and then HIV will be activated.

And vice versa – if level H2Increase S in the cell, the activity of the virus will drop, and it will not multiply too actively. Researchers have described exactly how H2S: when it appears, an intracellular signaling pathway is turned on that protects the cell from oxidative stress, one of the important immune proteins that can trigger inflammation is turned off, and a protein that prevents these genes from waking up sits on the DNA next to HIV genes. That is, hydrogen sulfide simultaneously acts in several directions, eliminating the reasons for the awakening of HIV. Possibly with drugs that increase H levels2S, it is indeed possible to improve antiretroviral therapy – hydrogen sulfide will suppress its side effects, plunging the virus into even deeper sleep.


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