Men with diabetes have been observed to have low levels of hydrogen sulfide (H2S), a compound responsible for the smell of rotten eggs.. While this observation may make diabetic males slightly more tolerable to be around, low H2S levels increase the risk of high blood pressure, which is a strong link between diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD).
H2S, besides its famous role of smelliness, is an essential component in blood pressure regulation within the human body. Specifically, H2S helps balance nitric oxide levels, which in turn helps regulate blood pressure. Diabetics are known to be at higher risk for high blood pressure, a condition that can be a precursor to CVD.
Another common complication of diabetes is known as microvascular dysfunction, where damage to small blood vessels can lead to kidney and nerve damage, and sometimes blindness. The current study found that low H2S levels in male diabetics were associated with both high blood pressure, and incidence of microvascular dysfunction. Lead researcher Dr Matt Whiteman states that “lower levels of H2S could effect how blood vessels dilate.” He further generalizes the studies findings by saying, “It would appear that in this study, male patients with diabetes have lower levels of H2S in their blood compared to otherwise healthy males of the same age.”
The potential impact of these findings lies in future researchers abilities to help target and regulate H2S levels in diabetics. “Although these are early days in a new field of research, manipulation of H2S levels by novel or existing pharmacological or even dietary means in the future could help treat or prevent cardiovascular complications caused by diabetes and other related conditions,” concludes Dr. Whiteman.
Source: Defeat Diabetes Foundation: Whiteman, Matt. Gould, Andrew. Diabetic Medicine news release. March 2009.