Hydrogen sulfide production and detoxification in the colon

Fabrizis L. Suarez, Michael D Levitt

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Potentially toxic quantities of H2S are produced by the colonic bacteria of man and animals. Damage to the colonic mucosa and possibly systemic toxicity would be expected if the colonic mucosa did not have an efficient means of detoxifying this H2S. While this detoxification was thought to take place via demethylation, we recently demonstrated that the normal cecal mucosa rapidly oxidizes H2S to form thiosulfate. There is a body of evidence that suggests that excessive colonic sulfide production plays a role in colonic diseases such as ulcerative colitis. The possibility also exists that a defect in H2S oxidation could play a role in various forms of colitis. The ability of poorly absorbed bismuth preparations (such as bismuth subsalicylate) to markedly reduce H2S release from fecal material may explain the therapeutic benefit reported with the use of bismuth in various forms of colitis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-261
Number of pages6
JournalEnvironmental Epidemiology and Toxicology
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Dec 1 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Colon
  • Hydrogen sulfide
  • Intestinal gas
  • Thiosulfate
  • Ulcerative colitis


Dive into the research topics of 'Hydrogen sulfide production and detoxification in the colon'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this